New Belconnen Bikeway expected late 2020

Belconnen Arts Centre Photo David Burke CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, ACT, Australai

Canberra Arts Centre is finished and the new Belconnen Bikeway underway, however, we are not out of the woods yet. The bigger issue is reduced project scope. When we first hear of projects they can sound quite grand. After the initial first planning phase, they seem a little less ambitious.

Update 6 February 2021 Belconnen Bikeway

The construction of Belconnen Bikeway along Emu Bank was finished just before the Christmas 2020, however, we are still waiting on the start of the construction of another section along Benjamin Way that was promised back at the 2016 ACT Election.

Update 5 August 2021 Belconnen Bikeway Project Costs

Part 2C Capital Works, TCCS 2019-2020 Annual Report, 255.

Building a better city – Active Travel – Belconnen bikeway
Revised pratical completion date: Sep 2018
Total expenditure: $250,000
Comment: likely design work

Part 2C Government Contracting, TCCS 2019-2020 Annual Report, 268.

Belconnen bikeway – superintendency
Contractor: Cardno Pty Ltd
Value: $197,162.40
Period 24/7/2019 to 1/7/2021

Belconnen bikeway – construction
Contractor: Cord Civi Pty Ltd
Value: $6,218,631.36
Period 9/9/2019 to 9/7/2021

Total project cost: $6,665,793.76

An update on the ACT Government website for the new Belconnen Bikeway: completion in late 2020. This is good news as the ACT Government does not update its websites for active travel projects all that often. As part of the COVID-19 Fast-track program, the ACT Government is now providing more information about cycling infrastructure projects. Check out the website for more information or visit the original project page.

Belconnen Bikeway, AC Government, accessed 3 June 2020
Belconnen Bikeway, AC Government, accessed 3 June 2020

It is worth mentioning though that the cycling infrastructure projects tend to run late in the ACT. Announcements like these tend to be adjusted once they run over the expected completion date. The planned date should be seen as an expression of good intent. Progress is a good thing.

Coombs delay

Sometimes the delays can be quite significant. Take the example of the bike paths around the Coombs peninsula (a tight river bend). The Coombs Stage 2 path works were announced back in January 2020 by the Suburban Land Agency. Coombs has had residents since 2015, but the bike paths around the edges of the suburb were never finished. In the ACT, cycling infrastructure often comes last after a long wait.

The TCCS 2019-2020 Annual Report outlines the capital expenditure for the period between 2016-2022 for 138 projects that were delivered on average 4.8 months late

construction, cycleway, ACT Government, ACT, Australia, Coombs
No way out, construction works, Coombs

Reduction in scope

A bigger issue is reducing the scope. When we first hear of projects they can sound quite grand. After the initial first planning phase, they seem a little less ambitious. The detailed planning phase brings the realisation closer, but it may not be how you imagined it. One cannot be ungrateful because it is progress. However, lack of funding for part of the project is a problem, as it is then uncertain about when it will be built. In the ACT where cycling infrastructure delays are the norm, funding issues are potentially fatal.

ACT Labor 2016 Election Belconnen Bikeway
ACT Labor 2016 Election Belconnen Bikeway

Benjamin Way to Aranda

The new Belconnen Bikeway in such an example of a project stalling due to no funding. The concept of the new Belconnen Bikeway is a bike path along Emu Bank – between Florey and the CIT – but also a separate bike path along Benjamin Way to connect Emu Bank with Aranda. The Benjamin Way path has currently no funding, even though the planning has been complete. Surely, if there is a project for ACT Governments Fast-track, this would be one of them.

Dealing with setbacks

What to do about slipping completion dates and reducing scope? A request to fix it brings with it more delays.

An example of this is the Sullivans Creek bike path. It was widened and resurfaced a few years ago and is much better than what it was and one of the best bike paths in Canberra. Unfortunately, the ACT Government did not fix it all. Part of the path is still far too narrow, and they have now been requested as part of the Fast-track program to have another go. We will get there eventually. 

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