A new sealed, metered car park is to be built at the National Arboretum this financial year to cope with increasing visitor numbers, the impending cessation of bus services and to provide extra revenue for the now iconic destination.
The ACT Government has contracted GHD Pty Ltd for $66,000 to design an upgrade of the current overflow car park directly behind the main sealed car park.
A Government spokesperson said about $2.25 million was earmarked in the 2019-20 ACT Budget to expand and add more than 500 car spaces to the Village Centre car park. Construction was due to begin later this year. There are 256 car spaces in the main car park.
The new car park is one of a range of infrastructure projects planned or under way for the Arboretum. A new network of trails under construction is due to be completed by the end of September, and more major concert events are expected as part of plans to develop the Arboretum’s commercial potential, with $120,000 allocated for a feasibility study for an upgraded amphitheatre, including a permanent stage. That work should begin soon.
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The Government would also like to see a hotel operating at the Arboretum, with Chief Minister Andrew Barr identifying a 1.7-hectare site south of Dairy Farmers Hill with unsurpassed views.
The Government allocated $90,000 in the 2018-19 mid-year budget review for a feasibility study for boutique accommodation, and it is currently in negotiations with the preferred tenderer.
The spokesperson said further decisions about accommodation, the amphitheatre and a purpose-built stage would be made after the feasibility studies were complete.
The Government would also recommend that any future large outdoor concerts or events held at the National Arboretum should use buses to transport patrons to the site, with some limited vehicle access. “This is to improve attendee experience and reduce congestion experienced at previous events,” the spokesperson said.
The car park contract document says that with the National Arboretum’s increasing popularity it is imperative that the venue continues to develop amenities in line with visitor needs and expectations while providing new business opportunities for the Government.
“While the Arboretum encourages the issue of public and active transport, the car is the predominant mode of transport that visitors use to get to the site – indeed public transport by bus to the site is to cease in early 2019,” it says.
As well as improving visitor experience and public safety, the upgraded car park will increase the Arboretum’s commercial and economic viability through the installation of parking meters, the document says.
At peak times, there is considerable congestion in the main car park, and Arboretum staff are forced to open the overflow car park to visitors.
Built in 2010, the overflow car park is a series of five compacted earth and dry-land grass terraces with no defined markings or signage.
“As usage of the car park continues to increase, the existing problematic pedestrian and driver access/egress routes pose public safety hazards,” the document says.
There are also erosion and water run-off issues.
“The existing earthworks of the overflow car park have been set up to mimic the layout of the main sealed car park. The site is undulating, with significant slopes and gradients in certain areas. Both the main and overflow car parks experience erosion and water flow problems owing to the steep embankments,” the document says.
It says the new car park will duplicate the main car park, with traffic to flow into the car park from the northern entrance of Forest Drive. Circulation is to be one way down the hill with each aisle accommodating two-way traffic. On the southern end of the car park, circulation will be two way to allow access to maintenance facilities.
GHD will supply the design work, a safety report and a cost estimate for construction of the car park.