Published April 19, 2016 - Deborah FitzGerald
THE long-awaited Greenway along the inner west light rail route could be completed within four years after the State Government committed to funding the corridor.
The project will ensure a green corridor linking Cooks River to Iron Cove that will provide cycleways and walkways.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance is expected to write to three inner west councils as early as next week to offer funding of up to $7 million.
Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils had already committed $4 million but will be asked to tip in another $1 million each to the project, which has been a battleground for more than a decade.
The Greenway is set to be completed after a high-level meeting between four inner west state MPs, council and Greenway representatives and the Minister.
Greenway Corridor in the inner west map.
A spokesman for the Minister refused to confirm the amount of funding saying “we look forward to working with the councils on how this project can be progressed.”
The bush corridor linking the Cooks River to Iron Cove which snakes across the inner west hugging Hawthorne Canal and the light rail, will become a continuous cycleway and walkway.
Community groups, cycling advocates, artist collectives and people interested in bushcare have long lobbied for the project.
The former Labor state government intended for the Greenway to share the corridor now used by light rail, before the project was shelved by the Liberal government in 2011.
Estimates in costs for the corridor have varied widely over the years with Labor promising more than $30 million before the last election.
Balmain Greens MP Jamie Parker has been campaigning for the inner west Greenway.
While councils have already upgraded parts of the corridor, the sticking point is underground tunnelling to link the pathways, particularly under Parramatta Rd, which is expensive.
Ashfield mayor Lucille McKenna said she was waiting for a formal offer but she was happy to see support from the government to finish the project.
She said she understood there would be negotiation around the councils’ contribution but she would work hard to try to find the money.
Balmain State Greens MP Jamie Parker said the dream of a green belt corridor connecting the Cooks River to the Iron Cove could become a reality.
“It was an encouraging meeting and we are optimistic the State Government will be working with the local councils to address the funding gap.
“This would be a huge win for the inner west community and I congratulate Minister Constance for looking at the detail for this visionary project.
“In our increasingly congested, hectic city environment, the Greenway will provide a connected off-road shared path for safe and accessible recreation and commuting. This will truly make our city more liveable”, Mr Parker said.
The Greenway will run alongside the inner west light rail route.
Summer Hill State Labor MP Jo Haylen said the community had worked so hard and for so long for the Greenway.
“It was a very productive meeting with the Minister and I’m excited about the positive future for this project — everyone is working towards a common goal — community groups, local MPs and councils, and the state government are all at the table.”
From 2001, the Greenway project has grown from a grassroots community vision and has attracted support from Leichhardt, Marrickville, Ashfield and Canterbury councils.
At the meeting were Mr Constance, Mr Parker, Drummoyne Liberal MP John Sidoti, Newtown Greens MP Jenny Leong, Summer Hill Labor MP Jo Haylen, Ashfield Council General Manager Vanessa Chan, and Greenway Place Manager Nick Chapman.