Two major trail expansions in Melbourne’s north—situated along railway corridors—have been frozen due to a recently discovered legal anomaly.
Funding has been provided, designs are advanced, work is due to start, but the gates are locked.
Permission has been denied for work to start on the long-anticipated final link of the Upfield Trail through to the Western Ring Road, and on the next stage of the Craigieburn Trail in Pascoe Vale.
The City of Moreland is delivering the projects which in places will utilise land owned or managed by VicTrack and to Metro Trains.
Naturally there are permissions required, and typically they are granted after proper assessment, and with the usual conditions.
But this time Moreland faces a Keep Out sign.
It's not that the agencies object to the trails: they say they no longer have the legal powers to agree to them—or not agree with them.
If your mind is making a boggling sound just remember that we are talking about lawyers and governments.
But this farce goes beyond a joke when it results in Victorian’s being denied the opportunity of staying healthy and active and commuting by bike.
The City of Moreland has finally been forced to defer its extension of the Craigieburn Trail in Pascoe Vale that has been scheduled since 2015, but has been mired in a mud hole jointly managed by the legal departments of VicTrack and Metro Trains.
Fortunately the City has other worthy projects available on which to spend the allocated funds while the lawyers locate their quill cutters.
More embarrassing though is the postponement of the extension of the Upfield Trail, which was funded to the tune of $3.5M by the State Government and announced with great fanfare in May 2018.
“We said that we’d invest $100 million over four years to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said then Road’s Minister Luke Donnellan.
“Our safer cycling and pedestrian fund has given thousands of Victorians safer, less stressful routes to get to where they need to go.”
“Cyclists have told us that competing with traffic, parked cars, pedestrians and trams on Sydney Road can be dangerous and stressful – so we’re investing in the Upfield Bike Path to give people a real alternative.”
The City of Moreland is seeking urgent action By the State Government to resolve the impasse.
But this is an issue that it much wider than just these two projects, and if not fixed promptly will impact on other existing and proposed bike projects across the state.
Bicycle Network would like to see a response from the government rather soon.