Changes to the new Woden Interchange will offer better protection from the weather for bus and light rail passengers, make it easier for cyclists to use public transport and alter the tree mix.
The ACT Government has lodged an amended development application to add weather protection canopies to the project, including new bike enclosures and toilets, modifying the bus platforms and replacing eucalypts with deciduous trees.
The government received considerable community feedback about the lack of weather protection in the interchange designs.
Three canopies are proposed: on the east side of Callam Street, opposite the CIT Building entrance, on the east side of Callam Street at the northern pedestrian crossing and on the west side of Callam Street, and at the northern pedestrian crossing.
Two bike enclosures with toilets are proposed on the eastern side of the interchange, and nine new trees will be planted at the back as an offset.
The DA reveals an internal discussion over the selection of tree species, particularly eucalypts in street and path settings.
“Urban Trees have previously stated that we do not support the planting of Eucalyptus spp. in highly urbanised environments such as Woden Town Centre,” the DA reveals.
“We give this advice based on our experience with the numerous maintenance and management issues caused by these trees lifting pavements and creating dangerous accessibility issues and reduced solar access in winter.”
Frustration was expressed that eucalypts were still in the plans, but the amended DA limits them to connections with existing native trees in the creek reserve.
It also was discovered that the original Liquidamber species’ canopy would be too wide for the buses so other varieties and maples have been used.
Bus platforms have also been shortened and shifted to allow buses to enter and exit and accommodate traffic lights.
Two drinking fountains with dog bowls have also been added, as well as two disabled parking spaces in the existing car park.
Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said the new light rail-ready public transport interchange at Woden was a central part of the government’s plan to revitalise Woden.
“The amendments respond to feedback from previous consultations with the community and include additional tree plantings and better weather protection for commuters, students and staff,” he said.
“The amended development application also includes the addition of public toilet facilities and new secure bike storage cages to encourage more people to ride their bikes.
“It means we’re offering more diverse types of affordable travel in Woden to connect with a renewed education, employment and retail hub and new vibrant green spaces and public plazas for students, commuters, residents and office workers.”
The interchange is expected to be completed in time for the opening of the new CIT campus in 2025.
It is not known when light rail will make its way to Woden given the project faces a series of approvals and the challenge of negotiating the parliamentary zone which poses environmental, heritage and route challenges hurdles.
The Canberra Liberals have pledged to scrap the project and focus on a bus-only public transport system.
The interchange amended DA is open to comments until 22 November.