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Veloway 1 – What Have We Done?

Veloway 1 – What Have We Done?

While infrastructure projects provide valuable improvements to our cities, adequate consideration of their visual impact is critical so that they are not only functional, but also contribute to the visual quality of the landscape, or at the very least, not degrade it.

Department of Transport and Main Roads 2020, Veloway 1, Pacific Motorway, viewed 27 May 2020.
https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Projects/Name/V/Veloway-1-Pacific-Motorway

Landscape Assessment provides a comprehensive summary of the landscape context and values and the manner in which they should be managed.  A comprehensive assessment ensures that landscape considerations are not overlooked.

One interesting example is Brisbane’s Veloway 1 project. A quick online search and phone query could not confirm whether a visual assessment was completed as part of the planning for this project.

This is often a requirement for significant and complex transport and road projects. Whether Veloway 1 is classed as a major project or not, a landscape assessment would be beneficial, particularly considering the close proximity of Veloway 1 to existing dwellings.

AILA Guidance Note – Landscape and Visual Assessment

AILA released a guidance note for Landscape and Visual Assessment which provides the key principles to be applied in any visual assessment.

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects 2020, Guidance Note for Landscape and Visual Assessment, viewed 27 May 2020.
https://www.aila.org.au/

It references a number of other established guides and outlines five key steps for visual assessment. Applying this to the Veloway 1 site area, some observations are noted below.

The Project

The Veloway 1 consists of removal of several stands of established trees, construction of new bridges at three locations and a new raised concrete structure, that is the bikeway, to the Bapaume Street verge alongside the M1 Motorway.

Existing Conditions

By no means or interpretation were the existing site conditions extraordinary, or hold significant visual or cultural value. 

The presence of trees to the western side of the M1 Motorway was a noticeable feature that provided intermittent relief from the adjoining M1 Motorway.

Department of Transport and Main Roads 2020, Veloway 1, Pacific Motorway, viewed 27 May 2020.
https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Projects/Name/V/Veloway-1-Pacific-Motorway

There are some significant stands of vegetation along the Veloway 1 corridor. There also doesn’t appear to be any features of cultural heritage significance located in the area.

The stands of vegetation are not likely to have held any significant ecological value, but they did contribute to the amenity of the corridor along Bapaume Road. They were effective in providing relief to the continuous Motorway barrier and retaining structure.

In addition to this, they created a visual backdrop when traveling along the motorway. They also provided a visual and acoustic separation between the Motorway and adjoining suburbia.

Department of Transport and Main Roads 2020, Veloway 1, Pacific Motorway, viewed 27 May 2020.
https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Projects/Name/V/Veloway-1-Pacific-Motorway

Was the existing vegetation investigated as part of an ecological study or Arborists assessment?

Identify Effects

The impact of the project varies along the route. The scale and bulk of the new structure is disproportionate to existing motorway infrastructure. The sections of the Veloway 1 bridges are bulkier than the adjacent motorway itself.

A number of dwellings are in close proximity to the Veloway 1 route. This proximity, the removal of vegetation and new built form constitute a significant change to views from these properties.

Other locations could be argued to be minimally impacted. For instance, the new overpass over Marshall Road is positioned on the same alignment and height of the existing motorway overpass, imposing minimal change to views in this location, so it could be argued that this change is relatively minor.

In the vicinity of the Holland Park busway station, the new works consist of pavement on grade, without the need for any bridge, resulting in minimal impact.

Opportunities to Modify and Mitigate

While not affecting the majority of road users, a handful of specific locations along the route will experience a high degree of change primarily viewed by local traffic on the approach from side streets and from adjacent residences

TMR’s Tree Removal Strategy includes the intent to re-vegetate the remaining cleared areas with trees, shrubs and ground covers. At the time of writing, no detailed landscape treatment proposals could be obtained.

Possible mitigation measures could have included:

  • New street tree planting along Bapaume street
  • Buffer planting of trees, shrubs and groundcovers to embankments and front of built form where space permits.
  • Additional planting within green spaces to the opposite side of Bapaume Street could provide additional screening to dwellings.
  • Final finishes of the built form may also bear some influence on the overall impact of the structure.
Effects and Residual Impacts

The constructed Veloway 1 will impact the visual character the road corridor of Bapaume Road – dramatically in some locations and minimally in others.

New planting of trees and understorey to the road reserve will in time contribute to softening the impact of the new structure from the road corridor and nearby dwellings.

Some dwellings will continue to experience a high impact due to the orientation of the dwelling in relation to the built form (i.e. dwellings that face new bridges where there is no space to establish screen vegetation.

Adequate consideration of the above steps is important to forming a Landscape Integration Strategy that has the potential to guide a project to an outcome that considers the visual experience.

No doubt the decision-makers involved in public projects have numerous issues to consider in order to meet the project time-frame and budget.

The logistics involved in the different design options no doubt impacted the design, time-frame and budget.

Many of the foreseeable design constraints are likely the result of other issues being prioritised. As a result, some amenity considerations do not always receive due attention.

This begs the question – what is the best way to determine a tangible value on landscape amenity so that it can have an impact on decision making?

The completion of the Veloway 1 and establishment of vegetation should prove to provide an interesting case study in gathering information on the delivery of transport infrastructure.