The recently completed duplication of the Cotter Rd is easily recognised by the handsome acoustic stone wall dubbed the Great Wall of Curtin.
But for cyclists a more handsome feature is the off-road three metre path on the south side of the road corridor from Yarralumla Creek to Streeton Dr. It can be approached from the Yarralumla Creek trunk path north Curtin or from Streeton Dr, Weston Creek.
Pedal Power recently reviewed the project with representatives from Transport Canberra, Huon, the major contractor, and the construction supervision engineer, AECOM. The design was undertaken by SMEC. Here is our report.
This project is a massive $30m investment in 1.5km of high quality road duplication and bridge building. The off-road path is a side show coming courtesy of the road duplication - but it is no less valuable for that.
Overall, it is a well designed and executed project. Huon has performed well and did a reasonable job of the tricky task of keeping the Yarralumla path open during the construction. We were driven to compliment Huon when a Pedal Power member reported gallant Huon workers offered to carry her bike over a temporary path diversion.
The path will serve the 8 to 80 cohort - fast for bold commuters and yet suitable for children and families on a recreation ride. It is a safer and more pleasant alternative to riding the on-road lane with 80km/hr traffic. A width of three metres complies with the modern standard for two-way paths and overhead lights provide for night riding. It is well separated from the road except where it shares the bridge over the Tuggeranong Freeway.
The building of a new bridge over Yarralumla Ck was the opportunity to realign the path approaches from the north thus improving the sight lines. Also a new deck on the old bridge enabled a widening of the path over the top. However, the old sub-structure remains in place leading to an unfortunate squeeze point underneath. Riders will need to exercise care at this point. At our urging, extra warnings will be placed there.
The crossing over the Tuggeranong Freeway is compromised by the constraints of the existing bridge. The off-road path and on-road lane merge and share a 2.4m wide two-way path over the bridge. This is not ideal but space was lost by the Transport’s Directorate insistence on installing a massive concrete barrier to insure against the unlikely event of a vehicle toppling over the bridge onto the freeway. Nevertheless, people riding and walking across the bridge are protected by a sturdy safety fence separating them from traffic.
The other problematical zone is the slip lane leading from the Cotter Rd to the south-bound lane of the Tuggeranong Freeway. Slip lanes are anathema to cycling especially in Canberra where the designs enable fast turns. The slip lane has a zebra crossing and a large pedestrian warning sign but people will need to venture carefully. It’s a case of traffic flow having precedence over walking and cycling. The Transport Directorate will monitor the crossing to see if additional safety measures are needed.
The original tender provided for a path to terminate at Kirkpatrick Street near the Defence College. In the event, funds were available from the original budget to extend the path a further 600m to Streeton Dr as Pedal Power had suggested. From Streeton Dr, riders have access to the Weston Ck network (which in turn needs of a lot of upgrading). They can also cross Cotter Rd at the Streeton Dr lights and enjoy the Molonglo network with links to Stromlo Forest. The Molonglo River Park is slowly being developed along the river corridor and will provide a range of cycling opportunities from the Weston Creek Ponds to Coppings Crossing.
- An earlier version of this article mentioned AECOM as design engineers rather than construction supervisors. SMEC was the design firm for this project.