From little things big things grow: prototype green track at the Arboretum

HomeNewsBlogFrom little things big things grow: prototype green track at the Arboretum
PTCBR Chair, Ryan Hemsley, with Transport Minister Chris Steel MLA at the National Arboretum, observing the prototype green track for Light Rail to Woden

One of the more interesting parts of the Light Rail to Woden extension is the use of a ‘green track” on Northbourne Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue. To help inform what species of grass, plants, soil types and irrigation systems will best work, the ACT Government has prepared a green track prototype at the National Arboretum.

Three different types of grass (two turf based, one seeded) will be tested over the next 12 months to determine the most suitable species for use on London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue as part of Light Rail Stage 2A.

A separate, planted track will be used in the median of Northbourne Avenue between Alinga Street and London Circuit, providing a landscaped plaza between the Sydney and Melbourne buildings.

Come to the Arboretum and check it out for yourself! You can find it at the end of the Gallery of Gardens, near the amphitheatre and the Margaret Whitlam Pavillion. Unfortunately, these tracks are the closest thing to public transport the Arboretum has seen in a long time, so you’ll need to drive or ride out there to see it. The irony is not lost on us!

Technical details

For those who are interested in the more technical side of things, below is a more technical explanation from Major Projects Canberra.

The prototype will test the proposed green track landscape treatments through a 12 month period of Canberra’s climate and includes  grass, groundcover, trees, irrigation, cobblestones and rail infrastructure being proposed for the LRS2A alignment.

The cobblestones are a high-quality material finish which is proposed to be used along London Circuit. The rough texture is intended to deter pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders from crossing the tracks. The stone is to be similar in colour to other infrastructure projects around Canberra such as canals and retaining walls. By testing it in the prototype the project can ensure constructability and the National Capital Authority and Territory are satisfied with the outcome.  There has been a delay in delivery of the cobblestone pavers due to a supply issue associated with the cyber-attack of DP World. The pavers are expected to arrive 23 December 2023. In lieu of pavers, decomposed granite is being used until they arrive. The granite material will be reused at the National Arboretum Canberra to repair hiking trails and footpaths around the precinct. 

Canberra Metro will test turf and groundcover mixes that add value and are appropriate for the amenity of Northbourne Avenue, London Circuit, and Commonwealth Avenue landscapes.  

To find the best planting material for the green track, different planting mixes are being tested including Creeping Wire Vine, Rupertwort, Creeping Boobialla and Wooly Thyme.   

There will be three separate mixes tested for the groundcover. In addition to the Santa Ana couch (which is currently being used on the Stage 1 alignment), two separate turf mixes will be tested. These include a Canberra blend of Tall Fine Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass.    

To support this, differing irrigation regimes, management of heat stress, and associated soil mixes will also be tested.