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Council tells Orange resident it will "take around 130 years" to complete our footpath network

September 18, 2023

Main photo: Phillip Street in North Orange. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

A letter from Orange City Council (OCC) to a resident - who had sought information on when a footpath might be built on their street - has revealed just how far behind the city is in terms of meeting its own recommended guidelines.

"There is around 200km of new path identified to be built in the future," the letter from council stated. "Based on current budgets, that work will take around 130 years to complete."

The letter said that council's budget currently allocates $400,000 for new footpaths, and $200,000 for path renewals each year.

"This budget equates to around 1.5 km of new paths and 0.7km of path renewals each year."

OCC said it "follows the recommendations provided in its Active Travel Plan when it comes to assessing new footpath priorities".

This plan states "the council should ideally provide: suitable off-road shared cycle and pedestrian path where possible; suitable on and off-road cycleways where possible; a footpath on both sides of the road on sub arterial and collector roads; a footpath on both sides of the road with the CBD and adjoining areas; a footpath on one side of the road in less trafficked areas".

New footpath being built in Orange. Supplied.

The word "ideally" gives OCC a lot of wriggle room, but the fact is the current council is forced to play catch up, as Orange councils in bygone years have given developers approval to build houses in new estates without requirements to construct footpaths.

The result is that decades later, you still see people having to push prams, walk dogs, jog or get to work on arterial roads.

The letter from council to the resident said: "Council has undertaken extensive analysis of priorities for both path renewals and new paths based on many factors".

They include:

* Local attractors (schools, parks, retirement homes, shopping centres, health facilities, etc);

* Network continuity – in other words, completing circuits by filling in missing linkages;

* Intersection and confluence points for network safety;

* Connection to other path links.

As for the resident's request, they were told: "This section of path scores moderately in the overall list of priorities. Based on current budgets noted above, I would not expect this path to be built until 2030 at the earliest.

"In summary, as you can appreciate we receive many requests for new paths and they all have merit, but with limited budget we need to objectively assess priorities and work through the list of priorities methodically.

"Of course an increase in budget would mean that these priorities could be delivered earlier than currently anticipated."

For more money to be allocated to footpaths Orange's councillors would need to vote in favour of budget increases.

In May this year The Orange News Examiner wrote a feature story about footpaths in Orange. You can read it here.

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