Construction of what has been called a missing link in the southside bike path network will soon make riding from Weston to Woden a safer and quicker option.
A tender has been released for the $1.5 million project to build a three-metre wide asphalt path from the Hilder Street/Heysen Street roundabout in Weston to the intersection of Devonport and Derwent streets in Lyons.
The shared path will run along the Heysen Street road reserve under the Tuggeranong Parkway, down the hill to about 100 metres west of the EvoEnergy Woden Zone Substation and through the Oakey Hill Nature Reserve to Devenport Street.
The tender documents say the project will formalise an equestrian trail crossing including construction of new timber rails.
There will also be new street and path lighting, new raised zebra crossings at the Hilder Street roundabout, a new kerb on the southern side of Heysen Street and drainage works.
Two trees will need to be removed and then two replacements planted.
The Minister for Roads and Active Travel Chris Steel released designs for the new path last December.
“The Heysen Street link is one of the key missing connections in our cycle path network joining Weston with Woden,” Mr Steel said.
“We know this path is an important link for cycle commuters and school students, with the alternative alignment through the Oakey Hill Nature Reserve providing a more direct and safer route for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrian users.”
The decision to go across the reserve added to the approvals process and delayed the project, which came about after a lengthy community campaign including a petition to the Legislative Assembly.
Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross said the ACT Equestrian Association, Weston Creek Community Council and his organisation had worked together to achieve a design that should work well for residents, horse riders and bike riders.
”This new section of path will improve the safety of riders commuting between Weston Creek and Woden over Oakley Hill,” he said.
”Previously, the only way for riders to make this journey was to risk riding on the crumbling and inadequate shoulder on Heysen Street, which was doubly dangerous due to the elevation and poor sightlines, or to take a long detour adding many minutes to the daily commute.”
But Mr Ross called on the government not to install unnecessary bollards on the path as the nature reserve in this area was very small and any obstruction to the path would pose a risk to bike and horse riders alike.
He said Canberra’s path network had many of these “missing links” which presented riders with the choice of a dangerous road or a long detour.
”Kuringa drive which links north Belconnen and Gungahlin is also a notoriously dangerous example,” he said.
Mr Ross said that with normal transport habits perhaps forever changed by COVID-19, there had never been a better time to invest in the city’s path network.
”Pedal Power urges the ACT Government to invest in completing the many missing links to our path network outlined in the Pedal Power Budget Submission,” he said.
Stage 2 will take the bike path to the Lyons Shops and Melrose Drive, but is subject to part funding from the Commonwealth Government.
The tender closes on 26 May and construction is expected to start in the second half of the year.