The rubber will finally hit the road early next year as the government's planned $37.5 million phase-in of electric buses for Canberra comes to fruition.
The first tranche of 34 replacement buses to be leased to the government is going through the tender process now. under a $19.8 million allocation in the 2021-22 budget which will also see the Woden depot adapted to provide the significant recharging infrastructure required to keep the fleet rolling.
The 34 will replace the oldest Renault diesel buses and will be a mixture of diesel and electric.
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A further $17.7 million has been allocated for 2022-23 for a further 90 battery-electric buses, which will be purchased rather than leased. Depots at Tuggeranong and Belconnen will be used to house between five to 10 of those buses in 2022-23.
An extra $3.2 million is being spent on managing the logistics and staffing associated with growing the bus network to service new suburbs such as Whitlam in the Molonglo Valley.
Providers have also been shortlisted for a new "smart" ticketing system, which integrates the Canberra's light rail and bus network into one smart card and replaces the current MyWay system as part of the government's medium-term planning, with $500,000 allocated to kickstart that process in the coming year.
The rollout of a chosen smart system, and the provision of data-sharing infrastructure to support it, has received significant funding in future years, with $18.9 million allocated in 2022-23, and a further $18.5 the following fiscal year.
Before that, an app-driven "real time" passenger information system for the network will arrive in the coming year, at a cost of $1.5 million.
Roads and bridges
In the roads program, the $230 million upgrade of the Monaro Highway is the biggest spend ahead for the ACT government, with funds matched by the Commonwealth.
A key element of the upgrade is the addition of two new interchanges, one at Lanyon Drive and a second at Isabella Drive, with bridges over the road. The expansion of the Hume industrial area and the heavy vehicles entering and egressing that area will also see an upgrade to the Tralee intersection.
Investigations are still continuing into the best option for the Tralee intersection, and whether to remove the traffic lights altogether or find a better option to integrate traffic onto the Monaro Highway.
The duplication of William Hovell Drive, also jointly funded by the Commonwealth, will receive $3.2 million from the ACT government in the coming year.
The less costly earthmoving and excavation are among the upfront costs, with the project becoming more expensive in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 years as the laying of road base, asphalt and other more costly work is undertaken. $65 million in total will be allocated by the ACT and the Commonwealth to the duplication to the end of June 2025.
The Molonglo River bridge project, which will finally link Denman Prospect's truncated John Gorton Drive to William Hovell Drive and eliminate the low-level Coppins Crossing, is the single most expensive project on the short- to medium-term agenda.
Only $3.5 million, shared between the ACT and the Commonwealth, is allocated in the coming year to that project, but spending will ramp up significantly over the following fiscal years. The budget papers reveal a $175 million jointly funded commitment to the bridge project out to June 2025.
The intention in the longer term is to eliminate the current low-level Coppins Crossing completely but keep the access road down to the river, rehabilitate the area with shrubs and paths, then establish a car park and walking trails along the river.
Stages one and two of the Gundaroo Drive duplication in Gungahlin to the northern side of the Barton Highway are almost complete, with $54 million approved for stage three which is under way south of the highway, again jointly funded with the Commonwealth.
The two roundabouts on Gundaroo Drive - formerly William Slim Drive - will be retained, but with traffic lights on the Owen Dixon Drive intersection. This project is expected to be completed by June 2024.
The management of the territory's waste and landfill has been allocated significant funding over the coming years as the former West Belconnen tip, which received much of the discarded Mr Fluffy asbestos fill, is gradually capped and the underlying waste monitored for emissions and run-off. The end goal is for the area to planted out and opened for public usage, with no building permitted.
The 2021-22 budget has allocated $3.1 million to this project, rising to $9.5 million in 2022-23 and $11 million in 2023-24.
The ban on waste plastics being shipped offshore for recycling has ramped up the need for the territory to manage its own plastics, and budget seed money of $500,000 has been allocated to investigating the technology it needs to do that.
A further $5.5 million has been allocated in the next fiscal year to build the bigger and more technically sophisticated facility required, most likely at Hume below the Mugga Way landfill site.
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