Paving the way to improve our footpaths | ourballarat Spring 2021

The City of Ballarat is embarking on its largest ever investment into footpath infrastructure this financial year. In direct response to community consultation calling for greater resources to be spent on critical infrastructure, a $2.3 million budget will boost our footpath construction, maintenance and repair.

L-R: City of Ballarat Infrastructure Executive Manager Vaughn Notting, Infrastructure and Environment Director Bridget Wetherall, Program Development Officer John Hartigan

With more than 838.5 kilometres of footpaths across the City of Ballarat, it is not hard to see why footpaths are a critical capital works priority.

City of Ballarat Infrastructure and Environment Director Bridget Wetherall says footpaths align strongly with many of the key goals of the City of Ballarat Draft Council Plan 2021–2025.

“Footpaths help facilitate a healthier community and one that is more environmentally sustainable through an increasingly connected network of safer paths,” Bridget says.

With the onset of COVID-19 and the rapidly increasing growth of our city, more people are choosing to walk, run, ride or scoot for exercise or commuting.

This fact is not overlooked by our community. In the City of Ballarat’s budget community engagement process, residents were able to promote their thoughts on the financing of footpaths.

That impact directly influenced the securing of the largest ever City of Ballarat budget for footpaths.

The facts on footpaths

The process of assessment, compliance, planning and the construction of footpaths is a timely, costly and ongoing challenge. As one section is finished, another is already in decline and other areas are waiting to be built.

City of Ballarat Infrastructure Executive Manager Vaughn Notting puts the City of Ballarat’s challenge into perspective.

“We roughly have a combined length of footpath equivalent to a continuous path from Ballarat to Sydney and, in a way, it’s like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” he says.

“As you finish one project, you start to repair, maintain or commence another, constantly chipping away and utilising the best technology and strategic planning skills to optimise budget and keep improving the footpath network.”

Footpaths are not all the same. The City of Ballarat’s breakdown of footpath types includes:

  • 564 kilometres of concrete footpath
  • 166 kilometres of asphalt footpath (including 3km with bluestone banding)
  • 104 kilometres of gravel/sand footpath
  • More than 4 kilometres of paved/block footpath.

Footpath strategy

City of Ballarat Program Development Officer John Hartigan says every footpath is different.

“Some footpaths can be in good condition after 60 plus years and some might only last 20 years because tree roots, increased traffic or load is having a greater impact,” he says.

“Many of the inner-city Ballarat streets were never originally designed for vehicle traffic other than horse and carts.

“Today with the increased traffic, speed and sense of urgency, people need a safe footpath away from the traffic risk or muddy verges,” John says.

“What we aim to do within the budget program is to continually look at creating longer networks of footpath. By joining missing links in a network of pavements, we try to construct three and six kilometre continuous paths for exercise and connecting neighbours.”

The future of footpaths

Vaughan says a lot of work goes into the planning and assessment of footpaths.

“Our vision on top of repairing and maintaining existing assets, is to keep building and linking our footpaths and this year has given us a significant boost to that program.” 

While there will always be competing demands for footpaths and a budget that is always working to keep up with the demand, there is no doubt it is a critical infrastructure, wellbeing and safety need that fits with the City of Ballarat’s vision.

The community input for the 2021/2022 Budget is significant in terms of enabling the team responsible to continue to improve our extensive footpath infrastructure.

City of Ballarat Budget 2021/2022

The City of Ballarat is investing a total of $2.3 million into footpaths, with $1.5 million allocated to new footpaths and $800,000 to repair and maintain existing footpaths.

For more information view the City of Ballarat Budget 2021/2022.