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 along Emu Bank was completed just before the Christmas 2020. However, the construction of the section promised at the 2016 ACT Election along Benjamin Way has not yet begun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.