By Gav Ross
BASS Coast Shire Council’s $1.1 million shared pathway outside San Remo won’t be completed and open to the public for over another year, but it is already riddled with gaping cracks.
Barely safe to set foot on, let alone ride a bicycle along, the first section of the 5.5km path – which is being completed in stages along Phillip Island Tourist Road – hasn’t held up too well after recent rainfall.
A steep decline and ascent close to Punchbowl Road appears particularly dangerous, with deep, crumbling fissures evident due to poor drainage.
Council’s director of infrastructure, Felicity Sist, says it’s important to remember the project is still unfinished.
“Those will be addressed,” she said of the cracks.
“We weren’t expecting the cracks to be so great.”
Ms Sist said there will be additional measures taken to rectify drainage issues when contractors return to the site.
She said sections of path most affected by cracks might also be sealed, which she assures was all included as provisional work in the council’s budget.
The project has earned the nickname ‘the path to nowhere’ after the council was unable to begin with the obvious starting point leading from the existing rail trail at Anderson.
Due to the final stage of Bass Coast Highway Duplication Project road works being completed late last year, the council decided not to wait and undertook the middle section of the pathway first.
Ms Sist said there had been some confusion in the community about where the path would start and finish.
“It isn’t a ‘path to nowhere’, as some people have suggested; the shared path has always been a planned staged work in progress in conjunction with numerous authorities,” she said.
“The funding is also being provided over three years, therefore council is unable to complete the entire project at once.
“Unfortunately we were also unable to build the path in the order that we would have liked because of the existing road works for the Bass Highway duplication, and this is why the initial section doesn’t currently connect to an existing path.”
Stage 1 of the project is now being advertised for tender until the end of July.
Ms Sist said the next stage of the path will be more complex and will include elevated boardwalks.
She also added that metal barriers have been included along some sections of the pathway as per VicRoads’ safety requirements.
The pathway is one of the missing links in a grand plan that will eventually link bike paths from Cowes all the way to Wonthaggi.
The Anderson-to-San Remo shared pathway project is funded through grants from the Victorian Government Regional Growth Fund via the Local Government Infrastructure Program.
It is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.