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Frome St bikeway: No deal yet for $6.15m completion

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The Adelaide City Council has failed to negotiate a co-funding deal with the State Government for upgrades to Frome Street in time for its own, self-imposed deadline, but construction could still begin by mid-next year.

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Frome St Bikeway

The council last year decided to begin negotiations with the Government to co-fund an extension of Frome Street’s contentious separated bikeway, and upgrades to its streetscape all the way to North Terrace, and committed to “conclude negotiations by March 2016“.

That deadline is today passed with no deal to show for it.

Nonetheless, the council’s administration has asked councillors to approve a $650,000 budget to prepare for the construction – including design, consultation and research – of the Frome Street upgrades, and released an estimate that the upgrades will cost $6.15 million in total.

In its Frome Street budget bid, despite the remaining absence of a co-funding deal, the administration suggests the pre-construction work could be finished in time for construction to begin mid-next year, warning that the “incomplete” bikeway was “a safety risk”.

The construction would take a year, finishing by mid-2018.

Lord Mayor Martin Haese told InDaily this morning that the council and the Government had been unable to sign off on any funding deal because of the complexity of their respective budget processes.

“Both Adelaide City Council and the State Government are currently in the midst of budget deliberations for the 2016/17 financial year and due to the complexity of this process, finalising project budgets can take longer than anticipated,” he said in a statement to InDaily.

“We have had ongoing communications with the Minister since late 2015 in regards to the northern section of the Frome Bikeway.

“In response to the future of the old RAH site and the inclusion of a high school on this site, council and the State Government both recognise the importance of improving cycling infrastructure along this section to ensure safe cycling for students attending the school.”

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan told InDaily that “we are continuing discussions with the council about its proposed changes to Frome Street and how those changes will fit into broader improvements to cycling facilities across the CBD”.

The council administration’s head of city design and transport, Daniel Bennett, told InDaily the $6.15 million figure was an early estimate of the construction costs, and “the construction numbers will be firmed up when we go to tender”.

“This needs to be investigated in more detail,” he said.

He said construction would not begin on the northern part of Frome Street until the redevelopment of the O-Bahn was complete, or near-complete.

The council has yet to commit to upgrading the northern end of Frome Street in the absense of a co-funding agreement, or to decide whether the upgrades would feature two or four driving lanes.

But Bennett said the “minor improvements” to the southern part of the bikeway agreed to by the council last year – including extending green cycling lane paint through intersections – would be finished by the middle of this year.

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