2 May 2024

Celebrating progress: Lord Baden Powell Drive upgrade marks milestone

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Wagga Wagga City Council Director Community Services Janice Summerhayes, Member for Riverina Michael McCormack, Senator Deborah O’Neill and Aunty Mary Atkinson. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

The completion of the Lord Baden Powell Drive upgrade is set to improve the connection between two major Wagga precincts.

The road runs between the Museum of the Riverina and Wagga Botanic Gardens and the upgrade is part of the Botanic Gardens Precinct Renewal Project.

The upgrade is part of phase two of the project, which involved revitalising a 300-metre section at the western end of Lord Baden Powell Drive, resealing the road, and improving surrounding infrastructure, including the addition of new pedestrian crossings, median islands, safety features, and landscaping.

This revitalised infrastructure is now open to the public and delivering greater connectivity, safety, and accessibility for motorists and pedestrians.

The project was a joint initiative between all three levels of government, with the Federal Government investing $4.3 million, the NSW Government funding $3.18 million and a $309,156 contribution coming from Wagga Wagga City Council (WWCC).

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Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout said the successfully delivered project represented a meaningful commitment from governments at all levels.

“At the heart of this precinct renewal has always been the goal of enhancing both the physical and cultural heritage experience for anyone visiting this truly special part of our city,” Cr Tout said.

“These upgrades now play a key role in fostering improved long-term connectivity between the museum and the botanic gardens, while also contributing to greater safety for motorists and pedestrians accessing the area.”

Cr Tout said the upgrade completion was the culmination of a long period of planning by staff and councillors.

“What we’ve been able to do is create an amazing precinct where people enjoy the gardens, the zoo, the museum, all the Wiradjuri artifacts, the history of Wagga, and many other things,” Cr Tout said.

Lord Baden Powell Drive

The Botanic Gardens Precinct Renewal Project included the upgrade of Lord Baden Powell Drive. Photo: Wagga Wagga City Council.

Senator Deborah O’Neill, who represented Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King, congratulated the council for completing the project.

“Wagga Wagga is a key hub for national agriculture, trade, military, sport, tourism and culture, and it is important that the Australian Government continues to support the development of its infrastructure,” Ms O’Neill said.

“This upgrade is vital for all who live in and drive through the region in terms of safety and boosting the local economy during the project, through job creation.”

Member for Riverina Michael McCormack welcomed the upgrade completion and suggested guardrails should be fitted on both sides of the road as “it’s a crash waiting to happen”.

The project also involved the guidance and input from Wiradjuri elders and cultural knowledge holders, who were key to enhancing the precinct’s cultural fabric in a way that meaningfully centres and celebrates the spirit of the land.

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The project consisted of three stages overall, each designed to transform the botanic gardens precinct into a dynamic space defined by enhanced cultural experiences, greater accessibility, and improved safety for motorists and pedestrians.

Stage one of the project, completed in February 2023, involved the redevelopment of the Museum of the Riverina – a cultural facility of the Wagga Wagga City Council located within the botanic gardens precinct.

This redevelopment was merged with stage three, an initiative entitled ‘Entwine’, which co-delivered the installation of low-maintenance trails, gardens, and additional community leisure areas to the botanic gardens, plus an upgrade to zoo exhibits that share stories with museum displays.

The final stage of the renewal, stage two, centred on upgrades to a 300-metre section at the western end of Lord Baden Powell Drive, which connects the Museum of the Riverina and the greater botanic gardens precinct.

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