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O-Bahn footbridge hits funding roadblock

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The State Government’s O-Bahn extension project faces a potential cost blowout with local councils reluctant to contribute to the $7-8 million cost of a pedestrian bridge over Hackney Road.

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Last month, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) chief executive Michael Deegan sent a letter to the Adelaide City Council and the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters asking for $1 million from each council to help construct the footbridge near St Peters’ College, which has also been asked for funding.

However, the Adelaide City Council will tonight consider advice from its administration urging the council to reject the request.

Norwood, Payneham and St Peters declined to contribute funds early this month.

A DPTI spokesperson told InDaily this morning that “without both councils’ support, the footbridge is unable to be delivered within the project budget”.

“The pedestrian bridge was proposed during early consultation on the O-Bahn project by local residents and stakeholders such as St Peters College,” the spokesperson said.

“Given these residents and the College are within the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters and they were seeking connection with the Parklands and the Adelaide City Council area, the Government requested both councils to contribute to the cost of the project.”

But city council staff argue that the proposed bridge is the responsibility of the State Government – and should be added to the formal scope of the O-Bahn extension project – because it would neither be owned by the city council nor be built in any part of its jurisdiction.

“Issues with ease of access that result from the impact of the [O-Bahn extension] project should be the responsibility of the proponents to resolve,” the administration’s recommendation reads.

“The area impacted by the construction of the proposed footbridge over Hackney Road to the east and west does not form any part of [city] council jurisdiction.

“The west side is controlled by the Minister for the Environment (Adelaide Botanic Gardens), with the east side within the boundaries of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters.”

According to the administration, the current pedestrian crossing arrangements for Hackney Road are adequate.

It has recommended that the council “acknowledge[s] the desire for importance of safe passage for pedestrians and ease of connectivity … [However] current construct of the road and median with identified crossing places allow for reasonable passage across Hackney Rd”.

City Council CEO Mark Goldstone was unavailable for comment, but Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Mayor Robert Bria told InDaily “it would be unreasonable to expect the ratepayers … to make a contribution”.

“We don’t consider it our responsibility to fund it, to the tune of $1 million, because it suggests only residents of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters are going to be using it.

“It’s a major, arterial road.

“People from right across the state … will use this bridge.”

The Government also indicated last month is would be asking St Peter’s College to make a contribution to the footbridge build.

The school sent a statement to InDaily this afternoon:

“St Peter’s College is concerned about the safety of the whole community crossing Hackney Road both now and post the implementation of the O’Bahn development,” it says.

“We are looking forward to the State Government’s plan to address the safety of residents crossing this major arterial road particularly as the Hackney Road corridor increases in population in alignment with the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide.” 

You can read Deegan’s letter and the city council administration’s recommendation here (from page 20).

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