Council asks billionaire Elon Musk to help with rail trail
THE future of the Tweed's Rail Trail could be placed in the hands of visionary billionaire Elon Musk, if Tweed Shire Council gets its wish.
Council has written to the pioneer of the driverless cars company, Tesla, to ask for his help in building the 24km rail trail.
In a letter to Mr Musk, Mayor Katie Milne asked the entrepreneur, who has spent time in the Northern Rivers attending music festivals, whether he had any "thoughts or ideas for transport options for regional areas".
Cr Milne pleaded the shire's case that a solution to the public transport crisis was needed, after trains were decommissioned 14 years ago.
"The potential for driverless electric cars on this corridor is something we are interested in as an extra option," Councillor Milne wrote.
"Any thoughts you may have on transport solutions, particularly in regard to electric driverless cars, to benefit our future planning processes would be greatly appreciated."
Cr Ron Cooper, who initially asked council to seek Mr Musk's involvement, said he hoped the businessman would respond because driverless cars on the rail trail would provide better access to Murwillumbah.
"It would make the trail accessible to more people and therefore protect the corridor," he said.
"Self driving cars are generally safer than people driving, especially when you're talking about them being near hikers and bike riders. This would allow people who can't walk or ride to reach Murwillumbah from Byron Bay and landholders to develop small shops to service a trail."
Council was awarded $13 million in federal and state government funding to build the rail trail, following community debate on whether to retain the existing tracks after the rail service was closed 14 years ago.
Council is working on concept design and environmental assessments ahead of opening the tender process which is expected to be awarded in 2018. The tender will accept plans to build either beside or on top of existing tracks.