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A walk through the Bowen Place underpass

By Paul Costigan - 14 October 2015 25

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The Bowen Place underpass has been a long time in coming — and is very welcomed. It is a job well done.

I say that it was a long time in coming as for far too many years now people, as they travelled to and from Kings Avenue to the lakeside, have had to cross over two busy lanes of traffic. While there were speed limits on this traffic, most of the time it came from under the bridge at a speed inappropriate for the situation. It was a case of people and bikes having to watch out for the traffic that demanded right of way – or else!

So what did we get for $10 million dollars? As with all these infrastructure projects, most of the cash would have been expended on the engineering and associated road and bridge constructions. As per the brief, the final design was to fit in with all the many aesthetic and heritage aspects of this corner of the Parliamentary Triangle.

And of course, it had to make it safe of pedestrians and cyclists to make their way to and from the bridge. On this count, the new underpass is a total success.

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Aesthetically it had to be a good piece of landscape design while not introducing anything too radical. It has achieved this objective.

It is very pleasant experience to walk though the underpass. The connections to the bridge end as well as to the lakeside paths works beautifully – as if they have been there for ages.

Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered cyclists who dreams that they are part of le Tour de France. They swoosh passed without any notice and they rarely allow for a metre between you and their speeeding metal machines.

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My curiosity was taken by the piece of artwork set out in the great expanse of grass on the upper side of the underpass. It seems that they may have run out of ideas and planted a large expanse of grass that fulfills no real function except to demand regular maintenance. Unfortunately the metal artwork, which is a good piece of sculpture, looks lost out there on its own on the far side of the large grassed mound.

The new Bowen Place underpass is a good engineering and design solution to a problem that was well overdue to be addressed. It works wonderfully and looks great – and will be even better when the new plants have matured.

It was definitely worth doing. But was it worth $10 million dollars? Probably.

Have you had a look for yourself yet?

What’s Your opinion?


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25 Responses to
A walk through the Bowen Place underpass
Mysteryman 4:47 pm 22 Oct 15

churl said :

Mysteryman said :

I really struggle to see how this ACT government can claim this was $10m well spent, but spending $35m to upgrade the Barton Hwy roundabout into a flyover (which moves thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people daily) is too expensive.

I think that this would be National Capital Authority money rather than ACT Govt?

Good point. I hadn’t considered that.

Maya123 4:37 pm 22 Oct 15

dungfungus said :

Ezy said :

“Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered cyclists who dreams that they are part of le Tour de France. They swoosh passed without any notice and they rarely allow for a metre between you and their speeeding metal machines.”

Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered pedestrians. They move so slowly whilst talking to their group of friends and take up the whole path without any notice of how much space they are actually taking up… It goes both ways.

In all seriousness. It is a beautiful new addition to the lake.

http://imgur.com/esAS1Ht

The photo depicts rusting panels and an abandoned bike.
Are you sure this is not a scene from contemporary Detroit?

??? The bike likely belongs to the person taking the photograph, but you probably know this.

Skyring 4:20 pm 22 Oct 15

Holden Caulfield said :

churl said :

Anyone know why they simultaneously got rid of the road joining Kings Ave (south bound) and Bowen Drive (i.e. the route Northsiders used to take if driving e.g. to Nat Gallery)?

This is my theory: The left lane of Bowen Drive which feeds onto Kings Ave is now a left turn only from a lot further back than it used to be. That means if the old exit from Kings Ave was still in place then you would be fed into the left lane of Bowen Drive which you couldn’t legally exit from to access the gallery etc and you would be fed back onto the bridge you just exited.

I’m not sure why they had to make those two lanes of Bowen Drive fixed from so far back, but I guess it might have something to do with the width of the new overpass and/or gradient and degree of the corner.

I think that’s about right. In effect, the bridge exits at the south end formed half of a clover-leaf intersection, and there’s always problems with divergent traffic flows in the merging lanes, as drivers wanting to exit are mingled with cars wishing to exit. A similar example is the Commonwealth Avenue/Parkes Way flyover, and a right pain in the bum it is, too.

Despite the speed limits, cars do tend to whip along Bowen Drive, and that makes merging difficult, given the tight curves, limited visibility, and abundance of concrete obstacles.

tim_c 4:13 pm 22 Oct 15

“Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered cyclists who dreams that they are part of le Tour de France. They swoosh passed without any notice and they rarely allow for a metre between you and their speeding metal machines.”

Of course, the most obnoxious cyclists aren’t on speeding metal machines, they’re usually riding fragile carbon fibre, standing up and straining on the pedals as they struggle just to get moving on a level grade because apparently no one told them they could downshift.

Seriously, a lot of those cyclists are commuting (ie. to and from work) – if you think the cyclists are ill-mannered when you interrupt their commute, try wandering aimlessly while daydreaming and obstructing the commuters using the nearby Bowen Drive or Kings Avenue, then you’ll see “ill-mannered”.

Postalgeek 1:59 pm 22 Oct 15

dungfungus said :

Postalgeek said :

It’s been done well.

My only quibble is the apparent drift away from marking a clear dividing line on shared ways. Even though the new paths are wider reminders should be in place to encourage people to stay left and consider other users.

That’s a big ask.

Yes, a very big ask.

churl 1:04 pm 22 Oct 15

Mysteryman said :

I really struggle to see how this ACT government can claim this was $10m well spent, but spending $35m to upgrade the Barton Hwy roundabout into a flyover (which moves thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people daily) is too expensive.

I think that this would be National Capital Authority money rather than ACT Govt?

dungfungus 11:04 am 22 Oct 15

Postalgeek said :

It’s been done well.

My only quibble is the apparent drift away from marking a clear dividing line on shared ways. Even though the new paths are wider reminders should be in place to encourage people to stay left and consider other users.

That’s a big ask.

Postalgeek 10:15 am 22 Oct 15

It’s been done well.

My only quibble is the apparent drift away from marking a clear dividing line on shared ways. Even though the new paths are wider reminders should be in place to encourage people to stay left and consider other users.

Mysteryman 9:15 am 22 Oct 15

I really struggle to see how this ACT government can claim this was $10m well spent, but spending $35m to upgrade the Barton Hwy roundabout into a flyover (which moves thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people daily) is too expensive.

The word “incompetent” comes to mind.

Holden Caulfield 8:58 am 22 Oct 15

churl said :

Anyone know why they simultaneously got rid of the road joining Kings Ave (south bound) and Bowen Drive (i.e. the route Northsiders used to take if driving e.g. to Nat Gallery)?

I see the skaters have just discovered the walls of the underpass: Paul might be at greater risk from them than the bikers.

This is my theory: The left lane of Bowen Drive which feeds onto Kings Ave is now a left turn only from a lot further back than it used to be. That means if the old exit from Kings Ave was still in place then you would be fed into the left lane of Bowen Drive which you couldn’t legally exit from to access the gallery etc and you would be fed back onto the bridge you just exited.

I’m not sure why they had to make those two lanes of Bowen Drive fixed from so far back, but I guess it might have something to do with the width of the new overpass and/or gradient and degree of the corner.

dungfungus 8:39 am 22 Oct 15

Ezy said :

“Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered cyclists who dreams that they are part of le Tour de France. They swoosh passed without any notice and they rarely allow for a metre between you and their speeeding metal machines.”

Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered pedestrians. They move so slowly whilst talking to their group of friends and take up the whole path without any notice of how much space they are actually taking up… It goes both ways.

In all seriousness. It is a beautiful new addition to the lake.

http://imgur.com/esAS1Ht

The photo depicts rusting panels and an abandoned bike.
Are you sure this is not a scene from contemporary Detroit?

dungfungus 7:31 am 22 Oct 15

churl said :

Anyone know why they simultaneously got rid of the road joining Kings Ave (south bound) and Bowen Drive (i.e. the route Northsiders used to take if driving e.g. to Nat Gallery)?

I see the skaters have just discovered the walls of the underpass: Paul might be at greater risk from them than the bikers.

I always find driving in this area of the triangle (Bermuda Triangle?) challenging, not unlike the new shared zone in Bunda Street.
If the designers of these projects had a brief to deter cars they have been successful.

Ezy 4:39 pm 21 Oct 15

“Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered cyclists who dreams that they are part of le Tour de France. They swoosh passed without any notice and they rarely allow for a metre between you and their speeeding metal machines.”

Having said that, you still have to watch out for the occasional ill-mannered pedestrians. They move so slowly whilst talking to their group of friends and take up the whole path without any notice of how much space they are actually taking up… It goes both ways.

In all seriousness. It is a beautiful new addition to the lake.

http://imgur.com/esAS1Ht

churl 1:54 pm 21 Oct 15

Anyone know why they simultaneously got rid of the road joining Kings Ave (south bound) and Bowen Drive (i.e. the route Northsiders used to take if driving e.g. to Nat Gallery)?

I see the skaters have just discovered the walls of the underpass: Paul might be at greater risk from them than the bikers.

rubaiyat 9:30 am 14 Oct 15

A classic example of how cars divide cities and send everybody scurrying for cover, usually in a culvert designed like a drain.

Of course the drivers above are oblivious to what they are doing and don’t care that it is costing a fortune just to avoid them.

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