A controversial project to put cycling paths on Sturt Street, which Victoria's Premier said was 'off the table' last year, will now go ahead.
The Courier has confirmed VicRoads will progress with detailed designs for a cycling path down Sturt Street, between Pleasant and Dawson streets, based on recommendations from a public reference group. The new path will be shared between pedestrians and cyclists.
The roads authority said Sturt Street was the most appropriate location, but existing trees, monuments and statues will not be affected. Artist's impressions show the path weaving around monuments, with sections of the path on the median's edge.
No timeline has been released for the cycling path's creation.
The project to funnel cyclists down Sturt Street was believed to be dead, after Premier Daniel Andrews said in February last year VicRoads needed to go "back to the drawing board" on the idea of a cycling lane down the centre median, following public furore.
We did examine other options, including Dana Street and Mair Street, but safety issues brought us back to Sturt Street as the most suitable location.Sturt Street Traders Group president and reference group member Claire Caine
Sturt Street Traders Group president and reference group member Claire Caine said in a press release that the group had considered a range of factors, including safety and heritage considerations, but Sturt Street still came out as the best location.
"From a business owner's point of view, we're hopeful that by improving the active transport infrastructure, we can reinvigorate the city's CBD," Ms Caine said.
The upgrade is part of a $9.3 million Ballarat Safer Cycling Connections project, run by Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) and City of Ballarat. Regional Roads Victoria is the rural body for VicRoads.
At the time when the plan for a cycling path down the iconic boulevard was proposed, there were also plans to change and potentially close six problematic intersections along the street.
Designs for the six cross streets were released in April this year, including plans for two new sets of traffic lights and three double u-turns. In the 10 years prior to April this year, 135 people have been injured in crashes at these intersections.
RRV chief regional roads officer Paul Northey said they were "happy to take the recommendations from the public reference group on board as we design the final layout of the shared path".
The public reference group included City of Ballarat, Ballarat Bicycle Users Group, the Sturt Street Traders Group, the Ballarat RSL, Ballarat Heritage Advisory Committee, Ballarat Health Services, Victoria Police and other members of the public.
The project is part of the roads authority's $1.4 billion Towards Zero Action Plan, which aims to lessen serious road trauma injuries by 15 per cent by 2020.