Darwin residents call on federal government to stop ‘disastrous’ arterial road

STOP Barneson Boulevard

Media Release

22 February 2018


Darwin residents call on federal government to stop ‘disastrous’ arterial road

Darwin residents are calling on the Australian Government to urgently review $29.53 million in funding given for the Northern Territory government’s controversial $39.3 million Barneson Boulevard project.  

The call comes after media reports this week exposed the project’s further threat to already sub-standard living conditions of residents at aboriginal town camp One Mile Dam near Darwin’s CBD.

The unwanted fourth arterial road to the CBD, based on an outdated design to accommodate for four times the size of Darwin's current population, would be a disastrous waste of taxpayers’ funds and threatens the local environment, health of residents and a loss of cultural icons*, Darwin community group Stop Barneson Boulevard (SBB) says.

Nick Kirlew, spokesperson for SBB, which has almost 800 active members, said: “In the past month, testing alone for this project has removed roadside memorials, torn down mangroves and resulted in serious threat to people who live at the Kumbutjil/One Mile Dam aboriginal town camp.

“One Mile Dam stands to lose their last remaining traditional hunting grounds with the removal of 2.1 hectares of mangroves that also help protect from toxic water run-off into Darwin Harbour. The road will pass just 100 metres from homes, further impacting residents with traffic noise and fumes.“

Mr Kirlew said community concerns expressed to both Territory and Local governments to stop the project had fallen on deaf ears for over a year, with the NT government’s claims of extensive community consultations “laughable”.

“This project is a disaster for Darwin. Independent traffic modelling shows this road will worsen traffic congestion in the CBD. There are numerous environmental risks from the contaminated site it will pass through. The project will destroy two large green areas and contradicts efforts to cool the CBD.”

“We are writing to the Federal Government requesting an urgent review of the project’s funding. We have asked to see the much-needed funding directed to our regional roads or relieving pressure at Royal Darwin Hospital.”

SBB has committed to meeting with One Mile Dam residents at the camp every Saturday until a better deal is brokered for residents - and for Darwin – in relation to the project.


Media contact - Nick Kirlew 0447 499 794

Photos, maps, interviews and a background brief available. Find out more: http://froghollowdarwin.net


Barneson Boulevard is a $39.53 million dollar project - City of Darwin ($5mil), Northern Territory Government ($5mil,) and Australian government ($29.53). The road would be a dead-end, fourth arterial road into the CBD, from Tiger Brennan Drive, along the existing Barneson Street to McMinn Street and then through the Frog Hollow precinct to stop at a dead end at Woolworths supermarket in Cavenagh Street (‘The River of Fire’). It was designed to accommodate a population four times the size of Darwin's current population.

SBB opposes the project on multiple fronts: 

  • Increased heat to CBD: Barneson Boulevard is a four-lane, bitumen monstrosity which is in total contrast to objectives of “cooling the CBD” projects (funded by the Darwin City Deal). Cavenagh Street has been dubbed the ‘River of Fire’ by Chief Minister Michael Gunner due to the heat generated by its’ four lanes of asphalt. Yet Barneson Boulevard, which will intersect with Cavenagh Street, is being described as a “green infrastructure project”. Roads and car parks are the hottest part of the city with temperatures nudging 70 degrees. Scientists warn the area will be uninhabitable if this worsens. Under climate change conditions, Darwin could become uninhabitable with over 300 days over 35 degrees combined with high levels of humidity.
  • Dedicated pedestrian and cyclist paths difficult: Darwinians have repeatedly called for improved bicycle access to the CBD.  Existing bike paths stop at the corners of Daly and Bennet streets where they intersect with McMinn. Unfortunately, the proposed road from Dinah Beach to the CBD is very steep with a gradient of around 5%, making it virtually impossible for the average cyclist to ride.
  • Impacts to health: Part of the road's path (south of Dinah Beach Road/Tiger Brennan Drive Intersection) was previously used for fuel tank storage where contaminantssuch as PFAS and other toxins and heavy metals have been detected. For both residents and the large number of those who work in the heart of the city the proposed road will mean more cars, more diesel fumes and more parking issues. This is despite public opinion on the Darwin City Master Plan clearly demanding reduced reliance on cars and improved public transport. It also threatens to increase already searing temperatures to those living nearby.
  • Traffic congestion and parking: An independent report revealed more congestion with the Tiger Brennan Drive realignment and duplication. It’s a dead-end road that leads to paid parking. Following a government traffic report, an independent audit of traffic report found congestion and parking would worsen in some areas, not improve, with the new road. The design is outdated and flawed- conceptualised in the last century.  It also goes against Goyder’s original design of city, which enabled the prevailing east-west breezes to help cool the city.
  • Loss of green space: Loss of  2.1 hectares or 1200 mangroves that act as a naturalfilter for nearby contaminated water and soil entering Darwin Harbour .  Loss of 25% of green space and 50 mature shade trees at the much-loved Frog Hollow Precinct. If you take a walk through Kumbutjil community at One Mile Dam and ask residents if they were consulted about the removal of mangroves - a traditional hunting ground - for testing in January - they will tell you they were not consulted. Nor were they aware of the impacts it would have on One Mile Dam.