Options open for new shared path linking Charlestown with Fernleigh Track

Planning is underway on a new cycleway linking Charlestown with the landmark Fernleigh Track.

Public feedback has opened on two suggested routes for the long-awaited off-road path connecting one of the Hunter’s busiest commercial and residential precincts with the region’s longest and most popular shared path.

Lake Macquarie City Council Transport Operations Lead Robert Morris said community input was a key component of the Charlestown to Whitebridge feasibility study.

“Feedback from the community will help identify a preferred route that has the greatest benefits for the largest number of people in the community,” he said.

“Considerations include how direct the route is, potential impacts on residents and the environment, the topography of the land, construction costs and how close the path goes to schools, shops and other services.”

“We’re very keen to hear from the community about what they think.”

The northern option starts at Frederick Street at Charlestown, travelling along Milson Street before linking behind homes to Kaleen Street.

It then links through bush to Flora Close, passes Whitebridge High School and travels down Lonus Avenue to join an existing pathway on Kopa Street leading to the Fernleigh Track.

The southern option also starts at Frederick Street but turns onto Dickinson Street, connects to Tiral Street and then cuts between Central Charlestown Leagues Club and Charlestown East Public School to Bula Street.

From there, it runs along Dudley Road before turning onto Lonus Avenue and onto the existing Kopa Street path.

Mr Morris said a number of variations on those two main routes were also on the table for feedback, along with potential upgrades to road crossings and other infrastructure.

“It’s very early days, and such a significant project would likely require funding input from other levels of government before anything happened on the ground,” he said.

“But we wanted to pull in the community now to ensure we have a firm handle on their priorities and any concerns they might have.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said expanding the city’s walking and cycling routes promoted healthier lifestyles and created realistic alternatives for commuters who would otherwise travel by car.

“A quarter of people in the community say they would consider cycling for transport if there were better, safer connections,” Cr Fraser said. “We’re committed to providing them.”

Newcastle Cycleways Movement Vice President Peter Lee said the cycleway would be the first of its kind connecting Charlestown’s commercial and retail centre to the Fernleigh Track, and on to the greater active transport network of Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

“We’ve been advocating for an active transport connection between Charlestown, Whitebridge and ultimately Dudley for many years,” he said.

“We’re pleased that Council is now preparing plans to bring this to fruition. Our primary goals are safe separated connections to the schools, shops and swimming pool along the way.”

Mr Lee was keen to see the path take advantage of the local bushland setting, highlighting the cultural heritage of the chosen route.

Once the feasibility study is complete, Council officers will start planning the preferred route.

Mr Morris said that would include further investigations, such as detailed surveys, geotechnical investigations and environmental impact assessments.

Go to shape.lakemac.com.au/CWC to have your say before 11 April.

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