Kuringa Drive: no gain without pain

Yet to start. Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020

The history of Kuringa Drive shows how 2 decades can pass and a problem persists. If we are lucky, we will see small but incremental improvement. Kuringa Drive made little progress until the Owen Dixon Drive was identified under the Federal Government Block Spot as a dangerous intersection. Only then, did the ACT decide they would do something about it.

The intersection with Owen Dixon Drive

Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection did not change for a long period until the 2021-2022 upgrade. Here is how the intersection looked on the 11 October 2020 before the work had started.

Yet to start. Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Before the upgrade of the Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Yet to start. Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Kuringa Drive was dangerous for the cyclist. Before the upgrade of Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020

Bicentennial National Trail

Bicentennial National Trail follows Kuringa Drive between Charnwood and Hall. Riding the Bicentennial National Trail is permitted but the surface is dirt like this or grass (sometimes uncut) along the most of its length. A mountain bike is the minimum requirement.

Bicentennial National Trail . Yet to start. Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Bicentennial National Trail along Kuringa Drive toward Charnwood. Before the upgrade of the Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Bicentennial National Trail . Yet to start. Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Bicentennial National Trail along Owen Dixon Drive. Yet to start. Before the upgrade of the Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Bicentennial National Trail . Yet to start. Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Bicentennial National Trail crossing point Owen Dixon Drive. Before the upgrade of the Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Bicentennial National Trail . Yet to start. Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020
Bicentennial National Trail crossing point Owen Dixon Drive. Before the upgrade of the Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersection, Belconnen. Stand 11/10/2020

What are missing links?

Missing links describe gaps in the cycling network and those gaps can be quite short. Adding another 100 m of path, connecting two other bike paths, makes a network. Without this short link, a cyclist may need to ride a much greater distance.

Filling the gap and building a cycling path to form a network does not need to be expensive but it adds a lot of value to the stakeholder. The benefit of fixing the missing link far exceeds the construction costs, as it makes the whole path network more attractive to cyclists. More people exercising = more people engaging in healthy habits!

ACT Labor promised to build several missing links at the 2016 ACT Election. There are many missing links in the ACT cycling network.

Context

Kuringa Drive connects Belconnen and Gungahlin. The missing link was only 1.3 km long along from Owen Dixon Drive to Barton Highway. Kuringa Drive was a narrow country road standard without cycling lanes. Riding there was unsafe for cyclists and likely to irritate motorists.

Kuringa Drive between Barton Hwy to Kingsford Smith Dr

2004 Kuringa Drive

Kuringa Drive has a long history going back to 2004 and possibly earlier. At the Belconnen public consultation, 16 February 2004, for the (ACT) Ten Year Master Plan Trunk Cycling and Walking Path Infrastructure 2004, a bike path was requested along Kuringa Drive from Barton Highway to Tillyard Drive, Fraser.

18 years later, only half the length is completed between Barton Highway and Owen Dixon Drive. The section half is not currently planned between Kuringa Drive and Tillyard Drive. It took us 18 years to build 1.3 km of bike path.

Kuringa Drive missing link (CBR Cycle Route C5). Public consultation notes, Belconnen Session, Monday, 16 February 2004, Ten Year Master Plan Trunk Cycling and Walking Path Infrastructure, Roads ACT, 2004.
Kuringa Drive missing link (CBR Cycle Route C5). Public consultation notes, Belconnen Session, Monday, 16 February 2004, Ten Year Master Plan Trunk Cycling and Walking Path Infrastructure, Roads ACT, 2004.

2016

The Kuringa Drive missing link was promised back by the ACT Government back at the 2016 ACT Election. In 2020 the ACT Government finally decided to deliver on the promise.

“Labor would also spend $6 million across the city on road resealing. It says a million square metres of roads were resurfaced on its watch last year. It would schedule intersection upgrades at Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive (Belconnen); Southern Cross Drive and Starke Street (Belconnen); Belconnen Way and Springvale Drive (Belconnen)…”

William Slim Drive duplication leads list of road promises, The RiotACT, 30 September 2016

2020

11 October 2020

  • Status update 11 October 2020: in planning.
  • Opened: The construction was yet to start.
  • Visual appearance: Apart from a sign announcing the project nothing had changed.
  • Scope: The signalisation of the intersection was paid for in part by the Federal Government and will make the intersection safer.

Kuringa Drive off-road bike path between Barton Highway in the north and Kingsford Smith Drive in the south was still in planning. The link provides an important connection between the western suburbs of Belconnen and Gungahlin. Kuringa Drive crosses CSIRO Commonwealth land. The development of this land was blocked by the ACT Government. 

2021

16 July 2021

The signalisation of Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive has been completed. The works crew has packed up and left. Unfortunately, the bike path along Kuringa Drive has yet to be completed. Hopefully, it will be finished soon.

14 September 2021

The surfacing of the bike path has begun. The line marking will follow. After that the path will remain closed for some time while mysterious administrative business is finalised. At some point, a cyclist will become impatient and tear down the tape, unofficially opening the path. We can expect the official opening much later after that, if at all. This is the TCCS way. We should note, that 3 months after the intersection was finished, we still do not have a completed bike path.

24 November 2021

With a year delay, the Kuringa Drive cycle path is finally here. An impatient cyclist has ridden down the tape to mark the lack of any official opening. The Kuringa Drive shortens the ride from West Belconnen to West Gungahlin by many kilometres. Consider the loop ride by Kuringa Drive, Horse Park Drive, and back to Gundaroo Drive.

31 December 2021

New Years is just hours away and Kuringa Drive cycle path has still not been opened. The ends were blocked and signed for pedestrians as closed. These obstructions were torn down again by frustrated pedestrians/cyclists. The Kuringa Drive cycle path was promised to be finished in the last electoral term. Over a year after the ACT Election, we are still waiting for the official opening. ACT Transport is slow, we know that, prone to make the same errors again and again. Here is yet another example of how cyclist left behind in the dust of motor vehicle priorities. ACT Transport have done little for cycling in 2021. Although, the intersection was sealed and opened in a single weekend in June, 6 months later cyclist are left to wait for the bike path to open. ACT Transport is really rather ordinary. 😦

Slipping projects

The history of projects slipping can be seen even in this year on the ACT Government website for the Kuringa Drive/Owen Dixon Drive intersection signalisation. Projects are rarely finished on time. The website was accessed on the 25 June 202 and the 12 October 2020.

Accessed 25/6/2020

“Construction
Expected start date: mid 2020
Expected completion date: late 2020″

Accessed 12/10/2020

“Construction
Expected start date: late 2020
Expected completion date: mid 2021″

Kuringa Drive/Owen Dixon Drive intersection signalisation, ACT Govenment

2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The 2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook shows how the ACT Government accounts for slipping projects. The money is shifted to later years. In this case, from the financial year 2020-21 to 2021-22.

 2020-21 $’0002021-22 $’0002022-23 $’0002023-24 $’000Total $’000
Capital2,0008,0000010,000
Depreciation00133133266
Expenses00100300400
Net cost of services00233433666
Upgrading an intersection on Owen Dixon Drive. 2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook

The Government will further improve the north-south arterial road, between the Barton Highway and Ginninderra Drive by including a signalised intersection at Owen Dixon Drive.

ACT Government, 2020-21 ACT Budget Outlook
Kuringa Drive/Owen Dixon Drive intersection 2020. Photo ACT Government.

Kuringa Drive Intersection Tender

Kuringa Drive has long been a missing link between West Belconnen and West Gungahlin. Building a path along Kuringa Drive was an ACT Labor 2016 Election pledge. The design work is finally completed and gone out to tender.

Unsafe for cyclists

Kuringa Drive / Owen Dixon Drive intersection is a known black spot.

“The intersection of Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive will be signalised to improve safety. As well as improving safety, this project will also relieve congestion at the intersection including improved safety and crossing opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Kuringa Drive/Owen Dixon Drive intersection signalisation, TCCS, ACT Government, accessed 10/9/2020

Kuringa Drive crosses a CSIRO field station, which was controversial as it was “earmarked for 15,000 homes, bordered by the Barton Highway, William Slim Drive, Owen Dixon Drive and Kuringa Drive.” (You’re paying for Barton Highway flyover and William Slim Drive, Kirsten Lawson, The Canberra Times, 12/6/2017 – paywall)

Many cyclists have got caught up here. It is a road like any other, but it narrows down quickly and there is no way to get off it. Frances Ingram published her letter to the Minister about her experience.

Australian Government Black Spot Program

The signalisation wave of the ACT Government is funded by ACT Intersection Upgrade Package, Australian Government Black Spot Program.

Project Description

The package will provide intersection upgrades across the Australian Capital Territory at various identified locations to improve road user and pedestrian safety, and improve traffic management.

The intersections being upgraded are:

> Belconnen Way/ Springvale Drive, Hawker
> Launceston Street/ Irving Street, Phillip
> Southern Cross Drive/ Starke Street, Holt
> Kuringa Drive/ Owen Dixon Drive, Evatt.

ACT Intersection Upgrade Package, Australian Government Black Spot Program, accessed 10/9/2020

The ACT Government cleverly smuggled the design costs for the bike path into the Owen Dixon Drive / Kuringa Drive upgrade. Signalisation is not driven by cycling best practice but Federal Government funding. If the Federal Government is paying for half of it, then it gets priority. This demonstrates how territory priorities are steered by Federal Government priorities. 

Interactive map, ACT Intersection Upgrade Package, Australian Government Black Spot Program, accessed 10/9/2020

Importance

There is currently a bike path between Casey (shops) and Barton Highway. Unfortunately, it stops short of Kingsford Smith Drive at Owen Dixon Drive. From there it is dirt to Charnwood – or at least to Kingsford Smith Drive – along the Bicentennial National Trail (BNT).

Kuringa Drive bike path provides a link between West Gungahlin and West Belconnen. Map CyclOSM v0.3.6 | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

The map below shows that the Kuringa Drive bike path stops short of Kingsford Smith Drive and provides no connection to surrounding bike paths. The rideable paths are shown on CyclOSM interactive map in blue.

Kuringa Drive to Charnwood shops. Map CyclOSM v0.3.6 | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

The scope of works

The ACT Government has a habit of promising and delivering late and the Kuringa Drive project is no exception. In this respect, promised timelines from the ACT Government are to be regard as an expression of political good will. “Coming soon” is likely to mean an extended wait.

There will be on road cycle lanes on all approaches to the upgraded intersection of Kuringa Drive and Owen Dixon Drive. Additionally, there will be a 3 m wide shared path on the northern side of Kuringa Drive, from the intersection with Owen Dixon Drive to the Barton Highway…

We expect to release the final designs in August ahead of constructing commencing in the final quarter of this year.

Tara Cheyne MLA, Member for Ginninderra, ACT Labor, email 1 July 2020
ACT missing linkKuringa Drive between Barton Highway to Kingsford Smith Dr

Kuringa Drive / Owen Dixon Drive intersection is shown below and the file attached.

Kuringa Drive Owen Dixon Drive Intersection Tender, 20-000035_Kuringa Drive Owen Dixon Drive Intersection Upgrade_Landscape_For Tender, ACT Govenment

The shared bike path is 3 m wide.

3m Kuringa Drive separated shared bike path, 20-000035_Kuringa Drive Owen Dixon Drive Intersection Upgrade_Landscape_For Tender, ACT Govenment

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