The renewal of Queanbeyan's main street is one step closer. Council received a $10 million grant from the state government last week towards their ambitious decade-long project to transform the CBD into a thriving retail, lifestyle and cultural precinct.
Monaro Street at present is not somewhere for pedestrians to stroll. The road is part of the King's Highway that runs through Queanbeyan; trucks thunder along on their way from Canberra to the coast, making cycling or getting around by foot difficult.
"The Kings Highway as the primary source of heavy traffic has not been conducive to a regional city as a town centre," council CEO Peter Tegart said. "It's split the CBD in half."
Guided by the 2017 CBD Transformation Strategy, the Retail Growth Strategy, and the 2019 Queanbeyan CBD Spatial Master Plan, council plans to bring more workers and residents into the town centre, stimulating retail and lifestyle activity, Mr Tegart said.
QPRC want to make Monaro Street more attractive, and reduce the noise, vibration, and dust. Soon you will be able to wander down wide walkways; brunch at an outdoor café; or sit under a tree and watch the world go by.
Much of the through traffic will be diverted out of the CBD via the Ellerton Drive extension; the CBD will slow down to 40 kph; and cycling paths will make bike riding safer.
Queanbeyan, Mr Tegart said, would have "a far more vibrant city centre".
Upgrading Monaro Street between Crawford and Lowe Streets is expected to cost $15 million, Mr Tegart said. The state government grant under the Drought Stimulus Package provided two-thirds; council will contribute the remaining $5 million.
Announcing the funding last week, the Hon. John Barilaro MP, Member for Monaro and NSW Deputy Premier, called it a light at the end of the tunnel for local business during an extremely challenging time.
"Monaro Street is already the heart of Queanbeyan, but this upgrade will ensure it remains a hive of activity," Mr Barilaro said.
"This work will make this part of the CBD a nicer place to be, and easier than ever to move around, whether you are getting your groceries or travelling to and from work."
Council worked closely with the state government to secure the funding. Mayor Tim Overall and Mr Tegart welcomed the investment. "This will help deliver the CBD the Queanbeyan community deserves," Cr Overall said. For Mr Tegart, it was a sign that government recognised the value of renewing the CBD.
Work on Monaro Street, Mr Tegart expects, will begin once the Ellerton Drive extension opens up mid-year. Design work and consultation will start soon, then council will call for construction tenders. This body of work will take around 18 months, Mr Tegart said.
This is, however, only the first part of the renewal of the main street. In two years after the first section, council plans to upgrade the stretch between Crawford Street and the bridge. When that work begins will depend on the private sector and on support from Transport for NSW, Mr Tegart said.
"We're not going to do the work until the owners of the property along Monaro Street make decisions around how to redevelop their sites," Mr Tegart said. "There's no point in digging the street up twice."
The Monaro Street project is itself part of a grand scheme to revitalise the CBD, including a new council head office, a civic / cultural precinct, more car parks, and beautified street connections.
The first stage - extending the river walk, introducing smart city infrastructure, installing a new pedestrian bridge, and refurbishing the caravan park - is already complete.
Over the next two years, Mr Tegart said, council will spend more than $90 million to renovate the town centre. Construction, he explained, is one of the primary economic drivers in the region - but it has been more than a decade since there was any significant development in the CBD.
"This is a timely injection of construction and funding," Mr Tegart said.
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