STALLED plans to complete the missing link in the Federation Trail are quietly being redrawn as the state government backs away from a complementary roads project.
The 24-kilometre cycle path, opened in October 2007, connects the Maltby Bypass in Werribee and Millers Road in Brooklyn.
A $9.2 million extension in 2010 was the single-largest project under the previous state government’s $115 million Victorian Cycling Strategy. The missing link, providing an off-road route to the city, was planned to be built along the same alignment as a truck route linking Williamstown Road and Hyde Street.
The truck plan remains in limbo and VicRoads has been investigating alternative routes via Spotswood.
Other hurdles have been the cost and complicated design of a bridge over the freight rail line next to the former Bradmill textiles factory in Yarraville.
Cyclists have criticised authorities over the Federation Trail’s parlous state, with large cracks in some sections creating hazards for cyclists.
Hobsons Bay Bicycle Users Group president Noel Dyson said the best option was to stick to the original plans of continuing its current alignment on the northern side of the West Gate Freeway to Hyde Street.
‘‘That’d take people in a straight line then across Hyde Street and directly to the West Gate Punt.’’
Mr Dyson said growing numbers of cyclists were using Blackshaws and Millers roads to get to the Federation Trail, while others took a chance with the trucks on Francis Street.
‘‘It’s the highest-priority link over other bike-route expenditure in Melbourne and that puts a high priority on a business case to complete the Federation Trail.’’
Cyclist and Victoria University lecturer John Tully said completing the path would allow people to cycle in safety, reducing traffic on the roads and the health costs to the community.
VicRoads acting regional director Damien Afxentis said it was consulting local councils, VicTrack and Bicycle Network Victoria regarding the alignment for Federation Trail, which was planned to link the existing trail east from Millers Road and connecting to Fogarty Avenue.
The next stage would connect Fogarty Avenue and Hyde Street, but it has not been committed to.
‘‘In order to accelerate the provision of a bicycle link between Millers Road and Douglas Parade-Hyde Street, VicRoads is working on a proposal for an alternative alignment.
‘‘The alternative involves realigning the shared path west of the Newport-Tottenham rail line, using an existing crossing at Brunel Street and continuing with on-road bike lanes connecting to Douglas Parade in Spotswood.’’
Mr Afxentis said VicRoads would not build an overpass over the Newport-Tottenham freight rail line at this stage.
‘‘The alternative proposal linking the existing bicycle paths would provide the community with these facilities at the earliest opportunity.
‘‘The proposed bicycle facility along the alternative alignment would provide increased benefits for cyclists and the community and enable cyclists to ride through Spotswood, Scienceworks, Williamstown, and to the city.’’ Williamstown MP Wade Noonan said the only reason VicRoads was investigating an alternate route was because the Truck Action Plan had been dumped.
‘‘If the new truck ramps from the West Gate to Hyde Street were still going ahead then none of this realignment work would be necessary. The first I knew about this is when locals started raising their concerns that the project had been pulled,’’ Mr Noonan said.
‘‘At the very least, the Baillieu government should allow some community input into the project review process.’’