Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track (FAST)
- Project typeActive transport infrastructure
Lake Macquarie City Council is in the planning and design phase for the Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track (FAST), a shared pathway linking the end of the Fernleigh Track at Belmont with Blacksmiths Beach.
This project will create a 27km active transport route from Murrays Beach to Adamstown, improving lifestyle and fitness in the community, showcasing Lake Macquarie’s natural assets and increasing active transport options.
Once completed, it will be the longest active transport route in the Hunter Region, opening up potential for Lake Macquarie to host major community fitness events.
Extensive community consultation is ongoing throughout the project’s detailed design stage to ensure views on how the project is delivered are heard.
Drop-in information sessions were held in Belmont in March, 2020, with feedback collected from attendees.
The community was also invited to share its thoughts during an initial consultation period via the project's online forum available at shape.lakemac.com.au.
Another round of consultation took place in November, 2020, to gauge community priorities relating to the FAST project. This included a community information session held online, and an online survey asking people to provide feedback about aspects of the project they considered most important.
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Detailed design, investigations, consideration of constraints and community/stakeholder feedback will help determine the best route. Council is considering various options to provide the best result for the community, within budgetary limitations.
The route will run off the Fernleigh Track at Belmont, taking in Belmont Lagoon. It will then either cross Cold Tea Creek or pass east of it, linking up to the project's southern section running parallel to the Pacific Highway from Hilda Street to Awabakal Avenue.
The path alignment avoids residential streets wherever possible.
Detailed design of the FAST project's southern section is now complete, with construction to begin in early 2021. This section features a 3m-wide shared pathway, new fencing and retention of the existing bike lane on the Pacific Highway for accomplished cyclists.
Surveyors pegged out potential sections of the route in early 2020 to provide a more precise insight into property boundaries and design challenges.
Geotechnical investigations along key locations took place in February, 2020. This involved machinery mounted on a ute or trailer taking borehole soil samples up to one metre in depth.
The samples provided an insight into ground structure and stability, with results assisting the track's design and construction.
An Environmental Impact Statement and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report now underway will provide further insights to help Council determine the most suitable route.
The project has the backing of local MPs, the RMS, NRMA, Hunter Business Chamber, City of Newcastle, Bahtabah Local Aboriginal Land Council, The Heart Foundation, Newcastle Cycleways Movement, and various other peak sporting, business and tourism groups.
NSW Government funding
NSW Government awarded the project $7.4 million in funding through Round Two of its Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund. Council will contribute the remaining funds to ensure the track's completion. Total project cost is estimated at approximately $12 million.
Return of public land
The project may require return of relatively small parcels of public land along the track route, historically used by private property owners for their own purposes. Council will liaise with affected property owners throughout the process to ensure they are aware of the situation, their rights and Council's rights.