Hospital Road in the Canberra Hospital campus is expected to be ‘split’ under changes to the proposed design for the SPIRE Project.
The most significant change, announced recently by ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith, proposes that the SPIRE building be connected to Building 2 across Hospital Road.
According to the SPIRE Project update, benefits of this option include: a clear main entry to Canberra Hospital in Building 2 facing Yamba Drive; patients, visitors and clinicians can move between existing facilities and the new building at ground level protected from the elements; and self-presentations to the new emergency department will be via a new entry point from the southern part of Hospital Road.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the amendments to the project’s design were informed by discussions with the community, clinicians and consumer groups.
“We know that traffic flow and road safety are of particular interest to the Garran community. Following feedback from the community, the revised design we are releasing today (11 March) will reduce hospital-related traffic near Garran Primary School along Kitchener Street and Gilmore Crescent,” she said.
“As I’ve been saying for some time, we are still in the early stages of detailed design development for the SPIRE Project, which will be developed in partnership with the Territory’s preferred delivery partner and the community.”
However, Shadow Minister for Health, Vicki Dunne, remains unconvinced by the plans, suggesting the latest iteration will create transport chaos, expose young school children to risk and limit the future functionality of the ACT’s health services.
In particular, Ms Dunne highlighted that once SPIRE is operational, ambulances will be required to access the emergency department via Gilmore Crescent and depart via Palmer Street. There were 19,649 ambulance arrivals at the Canberra Hospital emergency department in 2018-19.
Ms Dunne added that closing Hospital Road will add to the traffic chaos, especially when there is no parking plan for patients self-presenting to the emergency department, while overall suggesting the plan will “set us back”.
“It will fail to meet the needs of our rapidly growing population leaving the Canberra community vulnerable.”
Ms Dunne believes the government has erred in selecting the site for the SPIRE Project and it should be constructed in place of Building 3.
Following a competitive Expressions of Interest round, the ACT Government has shortlisted two applicants, inviting Lendlease and Multiplex, to progress to the project’s Request for Tender process.
The two short-listed companies will now enter into the next detailed phase of the tender process. The ACT Government is expected to select its preferred design and construction in the third quarter of this year.