The State Government announced $1.7 million upgrade to develop visitor infrastructure, including 6km of new bike and walking paths, at Merri Creek Park in Campbellfield. But we are still to see any commitment to build important bicycle shared use paths in Campbellfield: the extension of Merri Creek Trail and Extension of the Upfield bike path to Barry Road at Upfield.
The Money for the Merri Creek Park facilities comes from the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC) fund. The 6 km of new paths will improve some community access to the 650 hectare green space in Campbellfield, which hosts nationally significant native grasslands. It is a real pity there is no public commitment from state MPs to fund the missing links that would help connect the park and local residential suburbs.
According to the media release, the upgrade includes:
- a link to the Whittlesea Public Gardens in Lalor, which sits on the other side of the Hume Freeway. Turning the gravel track to a concrete path from Merri Concourse Merri Creek Bridge to Whittlesea Public Gardens in Lalor also makes good sense.
- a link between Somerset Rd and Horne St on the eastern side of the Merri Creek Park. I don’t get this? Will the path cross over Merri Creek and then double back to Horne St? Don’t let it stop at Horne St. When will we see the extension to meet up with the Merri Creek Trail at Mahoney’s Rd? It’s a missing link.
- a trail within the park’s conservation zone. Will make for an interesting recreational ride.
- a new bridge crossing over the Merri Creek. Does this replace the existing bridge or is this a new bridge crossing?
Minister for Suburban Development Lily D’Ambrosio commented at the launch in Merri Creek Park on Sunday 5 Feebruary, 2017, “We know how important it is to upgrade the local infrastructure communities rely on every day – ambulance sites, parks, schools and public transport.”
This is important upgrade work, Minister. But it falls short without putting in the necessary path connections to ensure good access.
Merri Creek Park is in City of Hume Council but borders City of Moreland and City of Whittlesea. The two State MPs that represent the area are Frank Maguire MP for Broadmeadows, and Bronwyn Halfpenny, MP for Thomastown.
These are improved facilities for the suburb of Campbellfield. Broadmeadows MP Frank McGuire said “This investment in Merri Creek Park facilities will improve the health and wellbeing of Victorian’s living in the growing communities of Broadmeadows and Campbellfield.”
Broadmeadows and Campbellfield mentioned, but it seems the citizens of Fawkner are in your blindspot Mr Maguire.
The link from Whittlesea Gardens will also improve the access for Lalor residents. Thomastown MP Bronwyn Halfpenny said “The Andrews Labor Government is getting on with planning for the future needs of Victorians, acting now to upgrade the parks needed so families in growing areas have the services they need to enjoy the great outdoors.”
No mention of Upfield Bike Path, Merri Creek Trail extensions
What I’m really interested in is safe access to Merri Creek Park area from the south and connection to Melbourne’s bicycle network.
Travelling north from the city (or from Fawkner) there is no safe direct route for cyclists to get to Merri Creek Park via either the Upfield Bike Path or Merri Creek Trail.
There are no backstreets to use (I’ve tried and had harrowing experiences on Sydney Rd), so the only route at Campbellfield is Sydney Road, which is unsafe and I would say highly dangerous for cyclists. The only safe cycling access at the moment is a very indirect route of using the Western Ring Rd Path then the Galada Tamboore path to the Whittlesea Public Gardens footbridge, then into Merri Creek Park.
The two important missing links that need to be built to provide good cycling access to Merri Creek Park and residential areas of Campbellfield and Upfield:
- The Upfield path needs an extension from Box Forest Rd to Barry Road at Upfield. What has Frank Maguire and the Andrews Government done to make this happen?
I note that the Hume City Walking and Cycling Strategy Action Plan 2010-2015 (November 2010) (See Council Policies page for PDF) included the Upfield Train Line Path, to extend the trail all the way along the railway line to Upfield. In 2010 this was given a priority 3 rating, with an estimated cost of $1,500,000 and funding for this path extension to wholly come from VicRoads.
- The Merri Creek Trail ends at Mahoney’s Rd. It needs an extension to meet the path at Horne Street. What is the progress in this?
This missing link extension from Pipemakers Park to Somerset Road (Stage 2 of Western Ring Road to Barry Road path) at Campbellfield. This was listed in the Hume Council Walking and Cycling Strategy Action Plan as Priority 1, with an estimated cost of $240,000. It was supposed to be built in 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial years with $120,000 funding each year from Melbourne Water & Parks Victoria. But so far nothing.
When is Hume Council and the State Labor Government going to:
- extend the Merri Creek Trail to Merri Creek Park? and
- extend the Upfield Bike Path to Barry Road at Upfield?
These are important missing links to be completed, and even more so now that Merri Creek Park facilities are being upgraded.
Camp Road Level Crossing Removal consultations is coming up on Monday and Saturday and its important Upfield bike path extension is raised as part of this community consultation.