The light rail is stalling due to the slow approval process. The ACT Government would spend on capital works projects to counter the effects of the recession. If the light rail investment is delayed, building strategic bike paths would be an alternative. Here is the Sulwood Drive option.
The light rail delay
Andrew Barr and Chris Steel had a press conference yesterday regarding the light rail. For those that have been following the saga, the rollout of the light rail has slowed due to the complexity of getting approvals through the Parliamentary Triangle and a recalcitrant Federal Government. Territories have always been the little brothers of the states (just two senate seats) and, in Canberra, we find a sibling in the National Capital Authority and other Federal Departments that are part of the approval process. Approvals are a long and slow process, not least due to Federal department funding cuts. The light rail must follow a direct route to Woden to be fast. That makes going through the Parliamentary Triangle the only way to go.
During COVID-19 recession it makes sense to build, and the Federal government is encouraging ACT Government to do so. Without approvals, the next stage of the light rail to Woden cannot be constructed and this delays the vast majority of the investment.
Build strategic bike paths instead
Canberra.bike suggests that the ACT Government could build strategic bike paths outside of the parliamentary triangle and particularly in the south. Pedal Power ACT also has a whole row of projects off the shelf, which have been sitting there gathering dust for lack of funding. How about a good off-road path along Sulwood Drive? Something the ACT Labor has been talking about at the last Federal Election?
What we are not proposing is yet another duplication that will pulverise around $30million per km. A good off-road bike path can be built for around $1million per km including bridges and all. If the ACT Government is short of money, they should think twice about duplicating roads.
Here is an overview of the discussion of Sulwood Drive.
Labor Federal Election promises 2019 discussed in Government pledge $5.8 million to continue bike and footpath upgrades, The Riot ACT, 12 May 2019.
Mark Parton’s experience as a road cyclist on Sulwood Drive: Get off the road you idiot!!, Mark Parton MLA, The Riot ACT, 25 April 2017.
“The motor vehicle was a big 4WD utility and it drew alongside me in the middle of the roundabout. The passenger window was open and I heard the driver yell out, “Get off the road you f***ing idiot.”
Do these people not understand that in yelling abuse at a cyclist on a roundabout there’s a serious chance you will startle the rider to the point that they lose control and have an accident?”Get off the road you idiot!!, Mark Parton MLA, The Riot ACT, 25 April 2017
The half-hearted attempts to fix Sulwood Drive to date: Mount Taylor Nature Reserve car park upgrades to meet growing demand, Ian Bushnell, 28 August 2018, The RiotACT.