Categories
urban planning

John Gorton Drive bridge update

This bridge over the Molonglo River will be the last section of the John Gorton Drive to be completed by 2024. Information about this bridge is found here. The close by Butters Bridge was finished in 2016 but is not yet in use.

Weston Creek Community Council wrote to Chris Steel, Minister for Roads and Active Travel, requesting that John Gorton Drive bridge be brought forward as part of the ACT Government’s Fast Track program. This now seems unlikely.

Categories
urban planning

Have YourSay on cycling: Light Rail Stage 2


Light Rail Stage 2 is coming and open now for the third round of community consultation. Gungahlin light rail taught us that bike paths are forgotten or even destroyed in the light rail construction. The light rail is an opportunity to improve Canberra’s cycling infrastructure.

The ACT Government website shows imagines of the light rail route on the Virtual Light Rail Tour. Cycling infrastructure is noticeably lacking on these images. Although it is an artist’s impression, leaving out the bike paths may mean that none are planned.

Go to the ACT Government YourSay website and suggest they build a bike path.

Categories
urban planning

History of the Flemington Road bike path

There was an off-road bike path bypassing Mitchell on the Flemington Road. It was bulldozed to widen Flemington Road for the light rail. Unfortunately, the ACT Government forgot to replace it. After complaints, the ACT Government pledged to rebuild this missing link. It is still under construction. 

Categories
urban planning

National Capital Authority: protector of the sacrosanct

It is one of the quirks of Canberra that while we have a territory government, the ACT Government is not responsible for all the ACT. Canberra is more like Rome and in the centre is Vatican City. Here we call it the Parliamentary Triangle, and it is ruled by the National Capital Authority (NCA). The domain of the National Capital Authority is bigger than one would think as it includes everything 200 m around the edges of the Parliamentary Triangle and Lake Burley Griffin itself. The National Capital Authority is the protector of the sacrosanct.

West Basin, Lake Burley Griffin source: OpenStreetMap, ACT, Australia
West Basin, Lake Burley Griffin source: OpenStreetMap
Categories
urban planning

Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline

Another important document for active travel in Canberra and urban planning, and another very long title. This post is an introduction to Planning for Active Travel in the ACT: Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline (ACT Government, January 2019). Because the title is so long it is often simply referred to it as PATACT.

ACT Government, urban planning, ACT, Australia
Figure 1: The cover of Planning for Active Travel in the ACT: Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline (PATACT)

The ACT urban planning documents often build on one another. This one is no exception. This document was released in January 2019, which may seem a long time after the release of the Building an Integrated Transport Network: Active Travel in 2015, and Light Rail Network –Delivering a modern transport system for a growing city (Light Rail Network), October 2015. The last two documents describe the ACT Government’s strategy for active travel as well as the light rail component of active travel. With PATACT the ACT Government describes what that means for non-road infrastructure and urban planning, in particular cycling.

Categories
urban planning

What is wrong with Molonglo 3 East

A case study for Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study Project Brief and urban planning of new estates in the ACT.

The ACT Government announced in the 2012 ACT Planning Strategy that it “sought to create a more compact, efficient and inclusive city” The proximity between new suburbs in Molonglo Valley and the city will help encourage commuting to work with a bike and the achievement of goals of the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25, but the potential benefit of the proximity of the Molonglo Valley will be largely forfeited without good quality, safe and direct active travel infrastructure. This is currently NOT typical for the Molonglo Valley estate developments.

This ACT Government held an Active Travel Design workshop (12 December 2018) and stated that the background to the new Active Travel Design Guidelines included “poor infrastructure outcomes as a consequence of planning intent getting ‘lost in translation’. My concern is that the failure to systematically integrate active travel principles in the planning process will most likely result in the missed potential to develop active travel facilities in the Whitlam and other new estate developments in Canberra. As human behaviour follows infrastructure, this lack of future-proofing active travel facilities is detrimental to achieving an increase in active travel in the ACT.

Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study Project Brief design tender (2 December 2019), released by the Major Projects Canberra Infrastructure Delivery Partner Group, is for the first stage design of Molonglo 3 East, but not for Whitlam. It is worth monitoring it as it signals the first planning stage of these new, yet unnamed, suburbs has begun. To quote the brief, the ACT’s Indicative Land Release Program 2019-20 to 2022-23, “proposes 200 blocks be released in the study area by 2022-23.”

Categories
urban planning

Bridge profile: John Gorton Drive bridge

This bridge over the Molonglo River will be the last section of the John Gorton Drive to be completed (2024). There is not a lot of information available about this bridge. The bridge required environmental approval for its construction. Further, the bridge is mentioned in ACT Infrastructure Plan 2019. The following information is an extract from these reports.

Categories
urban planning

Greenfield developments and active travel

It is unrealistic to expect the ACT Government to fund all active travel infrastructure from general revenue as capital works. It cannot be done. Alone the maintenance to a high standard an ever-expanding bike paths network is a challenge.

The sale of land for dwellings will always be a top priority for the ACT Government due to the expected population growth and ever-growing costs of servicing the existing Canberra population. The ACT budget is spent on the services that are regarded by most Canberrans as essential (health, education, etc).

We are proud of Canberra, our bush capital. The environmental regulations will continue to be front-of-mind for estate planners to protected and preserve these environmental assets. The downside is that it comes at a price. There are many places in Canberra where you will not get approval to build a bike path.

Land sales are revenue, so the ACT will prioritise that over finishing suburbs (and bike paths). The land release will remain staged. This type of estate planning is within a bounded area and the bigger picture outside those boundaries, such as cross city cycle highways, are left off the map.

We will need to accept that without capital funding, the active travel infrastructure will never be built all at once, but in a fragmented way.

Riding to work requires cycle highway networks that span the city. With the above constraints, it is achievable but not quick or easy. Without long term planning and enduring effort, it will never be achieved.