The National Arboretum plans to upgrade its internal road network as the institution’s booming popularity takes a toll on its unsealed roads and wet weather limits its activities.
With nearly 720,000 visitors last financial year, and the number expected to increase to a million in the next few years, the Arboretum is keen to ensure that all of the site and its forests and trails remain accessible, especially during and after wet weather.
According to a tender document, the project will seal about 4.5 kilometres of internal road so vehicles can be safely driven throughout the site in wet weather, and allow more experiences across the grounds.
But not mentioned is a second gateway to take pressure off the main entrance off the Tuggeranong Parkway where traffic problems can occur during popular days and special events.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government was progressing work on a second road entrance to address multiple needs, including increasing visitation numbers and traffic.
“A second road entrance would also address the Arboretum’s bushfire operation plan, support the site’s emergency management plan, assist future overnight accommodation plans and the special events regularly held on site,” he said.
The tender says that during bad weather visitors are severely limited to facilities directly off Forest Drive only, a single loop road. This is most apparent when school visits are at their highest during the cooler and wetter months.
On average, nine buses a day bring school children from all over Australia to the Arboretum.
“The proposed upgrade will provide a safe, all-weather sealed surface for visitors to access the site and surrounding amenities throughout the year,” the tender says.
“Successful delivery of this project will further support the growing visitation numbers at the NAC and offer diversified experience through these more accessible tracks for all users.”
The project will provide an appropriate road pavement to the internal roads that will allowing all year/weather access for vehicle traffic, including the Arboretum’s 12-seater Ngala tourist bus.
It will deliver a 35-space car park at the end of Cork Oak Road and more parking bays at the intersection of Totara and Forest Drive, as well as widen parts of Cork Oak Road to allow safe two-way access.
The successful tenderer will also provide a turnaround area for the Ngala bus at the end of River Road and the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP), and parking lay-bys along River Road, as well as other safety improvements.
The Commonwealth is providing $1.9 million through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCI).
The roads project comes after the completion of a 500-space sealed and metered overflow car park.
The tender is being managed by Major Projects Canberra and closes on 22 July.