A continuous bike path running the length of the Sturt Street gardens is a step closer to reality with the tender process currently open for the City of Ballarat's section of the project.
Council's section will run from Dawson Street to Grenville Street, enabling cyclists to ride from Pleasant Street down to Grenville Street without having to navigate across Ballarat's busiest road.
The path will also include new pedestrian crossings at every intersection and is proposed to tie into the planned Bridge Mall upgrade, with cyclists able to run through the mall and into Bakery Hill.
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City of Ballarat city design team leader David Turley said council hoped to engage a contractor in September with the project to be completed three to our months after that with minimal disruption to Ballarat's main drag.
"You've got the Christmas trader shopping period, you've got the RoadNats early in the New Year so it's about selecting a tenderer then working through a construction program that's manageable across the whole length," he said.
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Mr Turley said the path would be made of a combination of exposed aggregate paving and sawn bluestone, matching the section between Armstrong and Lydiard streets.
"The bluestone is an endemic material and it's one of the chief characterisations of our streetscapes and our buildings and it also gives rise to a really high-quality finish," he said.
However, Mr Turley was unable to provide an estimate to the cost of the project while the tender process was open but said it was a 'significant piece of work'.
"It's about 600-odd lineal metres, there's a lot of work involved, a lot of changes to the signalisation, so there's a lot of cost involved in the work," he said.
"It's a significant CBD project and because of its connections to the Bridge Mall, it will complement that project and the real win for us is that it gives people access to a walking and riding experience that's continuous all the way to Grenville Street."
Mr Turley said the overall goal of the project was to provide an option to a large portion of the population that could be converted to cycling if there was an off-road option.
"The primary focus of it is to provide for safe off-road cycling for children and families because we want to encourage that group. We want to currently encourage that demographic to ride bikes and be active in our CBD and by doing this, we can provide them with a safe off-road environment," he said.
"There's a whole market of about 60 per cent of the population that potentially could convert to riding if we provide them with a safe, accessible path network.
"A lot of the competent riders may not use the path because they're very comfortable on the road but we're trying to access that market that may not feel comfortable riding on the road, but they're very comfortable riding on these spaces."
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