Does a north-south through road really need to be built at the western end of the CIT project in Woden?
Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick is fighting a dogged and probably doomed campaign to stop it happening, arguing that what’s really needed at the foot of the Town Square stairs is a people-friendly plaza and green space.
She says it needs something that would be a destination where people could gather to dine, enjoy concerts and browse markets.
Pedal Power ACT has also joined the fray, saying a road would be dangerous because of inevitable conflict between cyclists and cars.
The government says the road is needed to bring the two sides of Woden together because Callam Street will be lost to the new interchange.
It’s envisaged as a shared space with low-speed limits and could even be blocked off for events with bollards.
But anyone who has driven through the area will know that the Easty Street diversion is working well, so why would you want to funnel cars into what will be a pretty congested space between Bowes and Bradley Streets in the heart of Woden?
Who will use this connection and why sever the pedestrian link from the Town Square to the CIT and Interchange?
Beyond these localised questions, there is a general principle to be considered about prioritising people over cars in such places and what that may bring to an area, something the government’s own policies encourage.
It could be argued that as it stands cars should be removed from the Bradley Street dining precinct altogether, and if one looks ahead to the future of Bowes Street when the current surface car park and temporary interchange are developed along with the Hellenic Club, it too could be handed over to people.
There could be a pedestrianised mall from the Bradley Street dining precinct through the CIT plaza and onto Bowes Street, with shade trees, amenities and businesses along the way.
Unless, of course, the government wants residents and workers from the Grand Central Towers and those new buildings to have internal road access.
Ms Carrick has also been fighting a losing battle to keep building heights down around the Town Square and for some green space to be secured.
As another high-rise next to the Lovett Tower rises over the Square, the concrete jungle that nobody says they want seems to be growing in front of them.
For Ms Carrick, the road being foisted on the community is but the latest example of the planning debacle that has left Woden with few community spaces and facilities as site after site falls to developers.
She welcomes development that will enhance the Town Centre but fails to see why some space cannot be left for the people who live and work there, other than the increasingly overshadowed Town Square.
The government appears not for moving on the road but the shared space is likely to leave all users unhappy – drivers will resent the low speed and pesky pedestrians and cyclists, while they will feel at risk contending with a traffic stream they will need to ford to get to and from the interchange.
The government should take another look. There could be a better way.