The ACT Government, including both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party, seem hell bent on persisting with planning for a new four-lane Majura Parkway rather than upgrading the existing two lane Majura Road, which is the route favoured by the NCCC and the ACT Greens. The only noise pollution being felt at the moment is endless political squabbling over who will pay what and when. Adding to the mix of public comments is the Gungahlin Community Council, which apparently favours construction of the more costly and environment-damaging Majura Parkway. Recent articles have been published in the Canberra Times and the City Chronicle on May 17 and May 19, followed up by a letter to the editor from the NCCC on May 27.
The Canberra Times Wednesday 18 May 2011
ACT goes solo on park
By Noel Towell
The ACT Government has decided it can go it alone and begin to build the $288 million Majura Parkway without an initial injection of federal cash. Chief Minister Katy Gallagher revealed in a budget estimates hearing last night that the territory had offered the Commonwealth a deal that would see the ACT start the road if the Federal Government agreed to finish it.
The territory believes that a deal might finally be close that would see work start on the parkway after years of delay, but only if it knows that federal money is in the pipeline.
Ms Gallagher said last night that their behind-the-scenes offer in the lead-up to the federal budget was designed to make it easier for the Federal Government to fund the road, which has been listed as a major national infrastructure priority.
The Majura Parkway is slated to link the Federal Highway and the Monaro Highway around the east of the city, creating a nationally important freight link but also unlocking north Canberra’s looming gridlock problem and providing a vital arterial route in and out of Gungahlin.
The Government allocated $144 million to build the road in this month’s territory budget, with the money only to be spent if the Commonwealth matched the commitment. But behind the scenes, the Commonwealth Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese was offered a compromise that would have delayed any federal spending until the federal budget was out of deficit.
Despite the deal not being funded in this month’s federal budget, ACT Treasury says that it believes an agreement is close that would see the Commonwealth funding for the parkway kick in two years into the project, if the territory begins to build the road.
The deal offered to the Commonwealth would see the territory pay $144 million for the first two years of the road building job, then the Commonwealth would take over and complete the project. “We fund the first two years of the project, as in 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and then they come in and do 2014-2015 and then go and finish the project,” Ms Gallagher said.
It is really to acknowledge that they have a budget problem, they have a couple of tough years where there is a lot of call on their budget. “So the offer they put was that we would fund the first part of the project and then they come in and fund the second part.”
The Majura Parkway is considered the territory’s most pressing infrastructure not under construction and would provide a vital national link and Ms Gallagher told The Canberra Times last night that the offer put to the Commonwealth was designed to help the Federal Government to fund the parkway. “We’re trying to make it easier for them, yes,” Ms Gallagher said. “I was trying to deal with the Commonwealth confidentially in the lead-up to their budget and I have to say that until the day of their budget, I thought it was going to get through. I can say that I had a phone call from the Prime Minister (Julia Gillard) tonight and I did raise Majura Parkway with her and I said that I wanted to have a meeting and discuss Majura Parkway with her.” The Chief Minister is now expected to sit down with her Commonwealth counterparts in an effort to finalise the deal.
Note: copyright of the material in this clipping resides with Fairfax Media. Usage permitted in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Section 42: Fair dealing for purpose of reporting news. Source: The Canberra Times – 18 May 2010
The City Chronicle Tuesday 17 May 2011
No money for Majura Parkway
By Alex McConachie
The ACT Opposition and the Greens have both expressed their disappointment over the lack of funding for the Majura Parkway project in last week’s federal budget.
The ACT Government allocated $144 million in this month’s ACT Budget to fund the construction of the road, which would link the Federal Highway to the Monaro Highway, but the project was contingent on the Federal Government matching that commitment.
With federal funding not forthcoming in this year’s budget, the road has been put on hold.
ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja has labelled the announcement in last week’s ACT budget as a “stunt”, and believes that the ACT Government knew federal funding would not be forthcoming. “I think it’s unfortunate that Labor doesn’t want to fund it federally and you question whether a Labor/Greens Government in the ACT ever will,” he said. “We were certainly hopeful [it would be funded].” Mr Seselja said he was of the view that the Majura Parkway wasn’t a high priority for the ACT Government, and that it may not be completed anytime soon.
“When the ACT Government is spending $432 million on an office block and $60 million so far on the arboretum; with those priorities you can understand why there wouldn’t be enough money for this road,” he said. “It is starting to look a little bit like the GDE, where we had announcement after announcement and delay after delay. “On their form this may be another 10 year road.”
ACT Greens transport spokeswoman Amanda Bresnan said the government should reassess its options regarding the Majura Parkway following this blow. “On two occasions the government has asked for this money and it hasn’t come through,” she said. “I think hoping for the money to come through and having it not [come through] is not a forward thinking approach to take.
“You can do quite a lot for $150 million so this is an opportunity to do something different that has a future focused approach.” Ms Bresnan believes possible options for reinvesting the money include duplicating the existing Majura Road and spending the leftover money on a frequent high-capacity public transport service to service Gungahlin.
Gungahlin Community Council planning spokesman Alan Kerlin said that while he was disappointed the Federal Government had chosen not to fund Majura Parkway in this year’s budget, he remained confident that federal funding would be provided for the parkway in the next couple of years. “[Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister] Anthony Albanese has already acknowledged it’s a road of national significance,” he said. “The road has to be built and it should be appropriately funded by the Federal Government as well.”
Note: copyright of the material in this clipping resides with Fairfax Media. Usage permitted in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Section 42: Fair dealing for purpose of reporting news. Source: The City Chronicle – 11 May 2010
The Canberra Times Friday 27 May 2011
Questions to ask about proposed Majura upgrade
Letter to the editor
by Jochen Zeil
North Canberra Community Council
The ACT Government has allocated $140 million to begin upgrading Majura Road. It is the latest attempt to alleviate the traffic problems of Gungahlin and North Canberra, which have arisen because Gungahlin has been developed without adequate public transport infrastructure.
It is not clear whether the plan is to upgrade the existing road, which would be cheaper and less damaging to heritage values and endangered grassy woodlands, or to build a new, realigned road through the western parts of the valley, close to Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie nature reserves.
The realignment option is called Majura Parkway and is more expensive and more damaging to endangered ecological communities. While a detailed plan of Majura Parkway, but not of a Majura Road upgrade, has been published as part of an environmental impact study (EIS), the two options have so far not been properly compared.
The reason for this lack of a cost- benefit analysis, comparing the two options, is the complex landscape of interests in Majura Valley. It involves a plan to develop light industry in the valley, as outlined in the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s broadacre study in 2010; it envisions a totally ill-conceived corridor for a fast train connecting to the airport and not, as it should, to the heart of the city; it includes plans for roads leading to a future township in Kowen Forest; it caters for Canberra Airport’s non- aviation business, such as Brand Depot and Costco, but also for the glint in the eye of Stephen Byron, who advertises Canberra as the ideal place for Sydney’s second airport and for a national freight hub.
Why has there been detailed planning for a new highway, but not for the upgrade of Majura Road? How do the aviation and non- aviation activities of Canberra Airport affect the road options in Majura Valley? On what basis has consideration been given to a fast train corridor in Majura Valley, the only stated reason in the EIS why a realignment of the road would be needed? And why should the ACT Government be allowed to spend $450 million for an office building and, considering the likely blow-out, much more than $140 million on part of a road, when the money would be much better spent on providing adequate public transport infrastructure for Canberra?