A solution to a dangerous stretch of the Great River Walk has been reached, with Penrith Council committing to a range of pedestrian safety improvements along Nepean Avenue.
The long-awaited decision comes after Council scrapped its original ‘pop up’ footpath idea – the installation of temporary flexible safety bollards – after receiving major push back from local residents in July.
Now, alternative emergency safety measures will be rolled out, including making the entire western kerb a ‘no stopping’ zone.
Speed cushions will also be erected, complementing a speed drop to 40km/hr along Nepean Avenue and surrounding roads back in August.
But it’s Council’s longer-term fix that will have pedestrians and cyclists, who normally have to weave in and out of cars along the roadway, most excited.
During Monday night’s Council meeting, Councillors endorsed the allocation of $2.5 million worth of funding for the construction of a 2.5-metre-wide shared pathway and lighting upgrades.
Once complete, it will provide the crucial pedestrian link between Tench Reserve and the Yandhai Nepean Crossing with the infrastructure it’s been crying out for.
Council says the bridge-to-bridge loop has soared in popularity in recent times, sparking the need for action.
“Since the opening of the Yandhai Nepean Crossing in 2018 and in light of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020, pedestrian volumes have quickly increased with a recent survey that identified 500 pedestrian movements per hour during peak times,” a report tabled at the meeting states.
“In response to safety issues for walkers and other vulnerable road users including older people, families with young children and prams and people with limited mobility, the Nepean Avenue link has received support to deliver a number of temporary improvements to the road environment.”
A Council spokesperson said delivery of the path is expected to commence in early 2021.
Given the desire to retain the substantive trees, the concept design includes narrowing of the carriageway via the relocation of the kerb from its current alignment.
Newly elected Deputy Mayor Tricia Hitchen, who has been vocal on the issue, thanked Council staff for the changes to the original emergency measures, which had residents up in arms when first proposed.
“They turned this around so quickly from the original premise that they had, to change it to one that the residents really loved,” she said.
Alena Higgins is the Weekender’s Senior News Reporter, primarily covering courts and Council issues.