BARGARA TO BUNDABERG CYCLEWAY PROJECT – THE FACTS

Division 5 candidate Ross Peddlesden has issued a media release promoting his support for a cycleway from Bargara to Bundaberg. Whilst not explaining how he intends to bring the project on a State Government road to fruition, it’s pleasing to see that he joins myself and every other Councillor in the current and previous term of Council who have supported the project and identified the obvious benefits that it could bring.  Indeed, through the lobbying by these Councillors, a proposed cycleway from Bargara to Bundaberg has been identified and included in all Council and State Government pathway planning documents.

It’s understandable why such a popular issue would be raised as an election promise, however some facts on the history of the proposal need to be understood.

Prior to the 2008 amalgamation, the Bundaberg City Council had secured significant State Government funding towards a proposed Turtle Interpretive Centre in Quay Street.

The new Regional Council decided to scrap the project but was reluctant to see the funding leave the region even though it had been granted subject to assessment criteria for the Interpretive Centre. In an effort to retain it, the Council asked for it to be reallocated towards a cycleway project from the City to Bargara as both the former City and Burnett Shire Councils had included it in their planning documents. The State agreed and $2.36M of the funds were diverted towards the project. https://www.questia.com/newspaper/1G1-210848712/shelling-out-on-new-route 

It needs to be noted that this amount would not have been anywhere near enough to complete such a project and I seem to recall that overall estimates of some $10M – $15M were mentioned at the time. The cost projections were blown out by the many land resumptions that would have to be undertaken and significant drainage issues along the route.

Unfortunately, the Department of Main Roads which controls Bargara Road could not agree to the project as it would have to contribute the balance of funds and because such a project was not on their upcoming capital works list. If my memory serves me correctly, they also had concerns that a dedicated cycleway could inhibit any future plans to widen Bargara Road. I’m assuming that if and when a widening occurs, it would incorporate a cycle path.

Again, the Council didn’t want to ‘lose’ the money by returning it so they submitted yet another request for it to be reallocated towards the upgrade of the airport to attract additional flights.

Once again, the State agreed and as a result that $2.36M was able to be kept within the region which of course meant a corresponding saving to ratepayers. It was also a significant factor in attracting Virgin to provide additional flights between Bundy and Brisbane.

I find it disappointing to read comments that belittle the extraordinary steps taken by both terms of Council to progress this project whilst at the same time fighting tooth and nail to ensure that valuable funding was at least kept within the region.

“As long as five years ago the Council had an intention to build the much needed path, and it had more than 2 million dollars of Government money to do it with.’  Mr Peddlesden said.  ‘Somehow the project was deemed too difficult and the money disappeared into the airport upgrade.  It’s a real pity.”

As recently as 2012 the Council adopted its Multi-Modal Pathway Strategy which clearly identifies the proposed Bundaberg – Bargara link and the subject has been raised during our scheduled meetings with Senior Officers from DTMR who are well aware of our desire to progress this project as soon as they can commit to it.

As the following plan demonstrates, Council is committed to a wide range of cycleways throughout the region and indeed in 2011 it formed a dedicated Cycle Reference Group to bring these towards fruition. Part of that focus (as shown on the plan) has always been to work cohesively with DTMR towards the Bargara Road connection once they have it listed in their forward works program and have the money allocated in their budget. Obviously, until that occurs the Council has no authority whatsoever to commence such works and no amount of election promises are going to bring it forward.

Multi-modal Pathway Strategy1

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