PRESSURE is mounting on the state government to fix the "missing link" in the Federation Trail, the western suburbs bicycle network.
VicRoads has backed away from original plans to complete a planned off-road route to the city along the same alignment as a proposed truck route linking Williamstown Road and Hyde Street.
The cost of a bridge over the freight rail line next to the former Bradmill textiles factory in Yarraville has been blamed for an impasse in the project, but cyclists, councils and opposition parties are calling for an 'at-grade' crossing as a compromise to stop the project from being scuttled, arguing that only four trains use the crossing each day.
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VicRoads is instead pushing for a redirection of the path via an off-road and on-road route through Spotswood. It argues the original funding and design was linked with the Truck Action Plan Western suburbs councils opposed to the changes want the extension of the Federation Trail from Millers Road, Brooklyn, to Hyde Street/Douglas Parade, Spotswood, to run adjacent to the West Gate Freeway.
They argue that a number of bike trails are being constructed to link up with the Federation Trail, expecting it to provide a direct link to the CBD. A report to Hobsons Bay Council last month labelled the altered VicRoads route "indirect and potentially unsafe".
VicRoads has $4.8million left for the project, but it predicts a $6-7million price tag for a bridge over the railway lines.
VicRoads has written to Hobsons Bay Council warning construction of the bridge would leave the remainder of the extension open to competing against other bicycle projects across the state, at a time the government has scrapped all new bicycle infrastructure spending. VicRoads also warned the $4.8million could be spent elsewhere if the councils request deferral of the bridge.
Bicycle Network Victoria says the government can either fully fund the project or admit defeat and abandon riders in the western suburbs.
Williamstown MP Wade Noonan has written to Roads Minister Terry Mulder, backing the councils' call not to abandon the original route.
VicRoads regional director Patricia Liew said the organisation was reviewing options to extend the Federation Trail. "Local councils, VicTrack and Bicycle Network Victoria have been consulted on the proposed options and these are currently under review."