The ACT government will spend $2 million to upgrade footpaths and verges in Northbourne Avenue, to improve access and safety for pedestrians and cyclists on the entry to Canberra.
Transport and Municipal Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris announced the first stage of plans for footpath widening and verge upgrades in Northbourne, between Greenway Street and Barry Drive and Cooyong Street on Thursday.
The existing 1.2-metre-wide path will be replaced with a new 2.5-metre surface. Bollards will be removed from verges as part of a 12-month trial and some trees would be trimmed and street lights reorganised.
Construction is scheduled to begin in June or July, and take about three months, ahead of major construction for the government's city-to-Gungahlin tram line later in the year.
The works are designed to make Northbourne more inviting to pedestrians and cyclists, although Ms Fitzharris said some bike riders would still prefer to use existing on-road bike lanes for speed and convenience.
The government hopes to make Northbourne a public boulevard, fitting for the entrance to the national capital.
Consultation with local businesses and residents will begin in coming weeks and later stages will bring similar improvements to other parts of the Northbourne corridor. The government published a city gateway and urban renewal strategy in January.
"There will be changes in the width of the pavement and the treatment of the pavement," Ms Fitzharris said.
"I think if you walk along Northbourne Avenue now, it is not the most pleasant experience. To more than double the width of the footpath is a real improvement and we're changing the surface of the footpath so it will be much more modern, much more inviting and safer surface."
She said footpath-widening works would support safe travel in the area, allowing cyclists and pedestrians space away from general traffic. The footpath would have better lighting at night.
"To plan for Canberra's growth, alleviate congestion and enhance our liveability, we need to improve our public transport system and make active travel an easier, more attractive option," she said.
"Different verge bollards have been installed along Northbourne Avenue by business owners over time, which has created an inconsistent look and feel.
"These will be removed in consultation with adjacent businesses to provide an uncluttered and more cohesive public space. Following the 12-month trial, the outcomes of having no bollards will be assessed," Ms Fitzharris said.
The area chosen for first-stage works is well established and the government does not expect significant building works in the near future. Minor disruption to business is expected during construction.
The ACT government's active travel co-ordinator-general, Gary Rake, said the improvements would encourage Canberrans to try more-healthy methods of travel.
"The verge refurbishment works will make it easier for Canberrans to walk and ride along our Northbourne Avenue corridor," he said.
"Improving this corridor will encourage people to walk, cycle and ride for recreation and social interaction and in turn help the community to make a healthy choice. Initiatives such as this contribute to everyone being able to get around and be more active."
Northbourne Avenue hotel and restaurant owners spoke out this month about the impact the construction of light rail line would have on local businesses.
In February, documents published by the National Capital Authority showed major light rail construction work for the tram project would not begin until October, coinciding with the ACT election.
Works approval documents show construction would begin at Flemington Road in October, with the main Gungahlin construction compound completed by the end of 2016, along with earthworks and some roadwork.