Last week a massive power pole planted itself plumb on the Federation Trail, and no human had anything to do with it apparently.
Somehow the pole had dug its own hole, positioned itself perfectly upright, and installed a few warning bollards, without anyone asking it to.
Very soon riders were contacting Bicycle Network to ask what was going on at the site, just near Dohertys Road, Laverton North.
The pole wasn’t saying anything. Neither was VicRoads, the City of Wyndham, or the contractors working nearby: Nah mate, not us.
A few days later it was a different story: Nah, yeah, sorry, it is us.
There is bad news and there is good news.
The good news is that the moving of the power services is part of the Western Roads Upgrade project, which is upgrading Dohertys Road, and more importantly, providing an overpass over the road for the Federation Trail.
The bridge over the arterial is one of several where the Federation Trail will be grade-separated across busy roads, greatly improving the safety of bike riders.
And the project has offered to investigate measures to temporarily widen the trail in the vicinity of the trespassing pole so that riders can get around it comfortably.
In the meantime steps are being taken to make the pole more visible, especially at night.
But the bad news is no-one can explain how something like this could happen on a $1.8B flagship project.
The Western Roads upgrade is one of the Andrews Government’s signature projects, being overseen by the new minted Major Roads Project Authority. The Premier and his Ministers are regularly on the news in their hard hats and high-vis spruiking up the project.
The plans and construction drawings—clearly showing the trail—would have been reviewed and cross-checked by herds of engineers.
Workers on the site would have witnessed bikes regularly riding along the trail.
And yet the pole went in right on the spot where people would have been riding earlier.
The Major Roads Project Authority will have responsibility for delivering extensive bike infrastructure across the State in the coming years. Surely they can do better than this.
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