A better outcome for Bowral at a fraction of the cost

1 June, 2023Posted in: Delivering, Roads and Assets
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Completed upgrade to STation St and Station Carpark

It’s now a smooth ride along Station Street though getting there has been bumpy!

With the reopening of vastly improved parking and roads around Station Street there is much to celebrate! Where all available on-street parking between Banyette and Bowral Streets was to be removed, along with the Southern Carpark, we’ve added 138 extra spots for the busy CBD. We’ve retained all 8 of the 80+ year old Pin Oaks earmarked to be ripped out, in what was reported as ‘the logging of Bowral’, along with the heritage camelia gardens.

The new community-based approach and subsequent cost savings on this priority project followed the decision of Council Administrator, Mr Viv May, not to proceed with plans the previous Council had commit-ted to. In the view of the Administrator, these were not financially viable. Within just 2 years of Council going into administration, better movement around Bowral has been achieved, at a fraction of the cost, without compromising the charm and character of the town.

“The township of Bowral is widely renowned as the picturesque gateway to our spectacular Southern Highlands. Improving traffic flow through Station Street in a way

that retains the strong sense of place residents value, has been a priority,” Mr May says.
“What the previous Council committed to, was a freeway-style thoroughfare at the expense of so much of what really matters to residents and retailers, like convenient parking, safe and easy pedestrian access and of course the heritage trees and gardens. Much of the proposed works was unfunded but the Council seemed determined to proceed.” Proposed project outcome illustrated

After being stalled for over four years, a far better result has successfully been completed for about a third of the original cost estimate and Mr May has acknowledged the substantial input of many residents who would not be silenced.

Council originally received a grant of $7.5 million from the State Government to assist with funding for the project and over $3 million was utilised as the Council endeavoured to get agreement on its ideas with an indicative total cost in excess of $30 million. $3.2 million of the original grant was returned to the Government as the scope of the project simply did not accord with the grant conditions.

There has been much talk about what the project actually cost rate payers. For the record it was $7.959 million, inclusive of $1.4million required to remove and dispose of hazardous Coal Tar. The State Government also came to the party with providing $1.3 million to rebuild the carpark adjacent to the Bowral Station, described by Council’s Manager Project Delivery, Ned Tripkovic, as “the icing on the cake”.

What has been achieved, Mr May argues, is financially sensible and responsible. “Had the Council proceeded with the original concept, over $18 million was unfunded and unaffordable. Other worthwhile civic projects would have been delayed for years and to what end.”

The community-driven result included doing away with the idea of a roundabout at Bundaroo Street, which was the previous Council’s driving logic for improving traffic flow on Station Street. “The plan failed to take into account that this would have minimal impact without duplication of Wingecarribee Street Bridge, which is unlikely to have ever happened as the additional costs to this project would have been astronomical,” Ned explains. “The value the community places on the Pin Oaks, planted in the 40’s, was made clear in the consultation that informed this project, yet re-alignment of the road to allow for the roundabout would have required their removal, along with relocating the 70 available car parking spaces in that area to Railway owned land at Mittagong.”

“A land swap with Railways made no sense for the convenience of commuters and remained unresolved -potentially posing further financial impact for rate payers.” Mr May added.

As illustrated in the previous concept plan, a diversion of road between Boolwey St and Bowral St allowed for no more than 40 car spaces and in fact removed all on-street parking from Banyette St to Bowral St. What Council has instead delivered at this location was the removal of dangerous open drains, placing a stormwater management system, underground, as part of reconstruction of a new 190 space Southern carpark (138 new spaces in addition to the 52 existing spaces). 137 parking spaces are now usable in the Train Station Car Park.

The innovative thinking of Council’s Team even managed to keep the reconstruction on schedule after toxic Coal Tar was unearthed. This had potential to hold-up works indefinitely but was promptly resolved by successfully researching new road sealing technologies. “We were mindful of the inconvenience to local business owners and road users should any further delays occur, and literally worked day and night to resolve the situation quickly and efficiently,” Ned says.

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