An article in the RiotAct today reported that work is about to start on upgrading the road network in the National Arboretum. This mainly means sealing 4.5km of internal dirt roads to enable vehicles safely into a larger area of the Arboretum.
River Road, Totara Road and Depot Road will be sealed and there will also be more parking bays provided at the intersection of Totara and Forest Drive and a turnaround area for the Arboretum bus at the end of River Road and the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP), as well as parking lay-bys along River Road.
Cork Oak Road will also be fully sealed and turned into a dual carriageway with a 30-vehicle car park at the gate into the Cork Oaks. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the year
According to the RiotACT the contractors would take possession of the site next week, with physical works to commence around a week later. A spokesperson said that the Arboretum aims to maintain access to as many of the forests and trails as it can throughout the project, including the Cork Oak Forest.
On 26 August ACTEA was contacted by the Arboretum about the works proposed at the Cork Oaks carpark. They advised that access to the Bicentennial National Trail, and therefore the Arboretum, will be retained throughout the project.
To maintain BNT access they will improve the orange BNT markers in the area around the cavaletti and will erect site fencing along the edge of the works to ensure riders are kept separate from the works apart from when they need to cross Cork Oak Road. This will ensure that riders do not find themselves in the middle of a carpark both during the works and into the future. They will erect warning signage approaching the works from both ends to notify users of the trail of the works ahead. BNT users will be able to proceed with care across the road.
The Cork Oak Road section will be the first undertaken for the project and weather and Covid permitting it should be completed in a six – eight week timeframe.
The arboretum have provided ACTEA with a basic map roughly outlining how the site fencing might work. A site meeting has been proposed but delayed because of current Covid restrictions.
The carpark aside there are other issues with the road upgrades. The Arboretum’s Public Use Policy in regard to horses states that equestrian access to the Arboretum will be permitted on designated trails and the Bicentennial National Trail. For the purposes of equestrian access, designated trails are defined as all gravel roads, trails and interconnecting alleés, but excluding the access tracks to the events terrace, the amphitheatre and the central valley.
ACTEA will be having a conversation with the Arboretum about how the current road upgrades will impact on horse riders.