Well, what a debacle that mess in the ACTON Tunnel was. It’s hard to imagine in this city of ours how much of a headache an over-height truck can cause. However, due to the unfathomable use uf ‘asbestos’ tiles on the roof of this decades old structure it did indeed cause a headache. What this writer hopes, in the impending investigation, authorities perhaps consider the removal of these tiles so as to avoid lengthy disruptions in the future should another truck smash into this infrastructure.
What was surprising, in my view, was the suggestion the Capital Metro Light Rail could have avoided some of the traffic chaos and disruption. Really? I read with a wry grin comments such as “one could just imagine people whizzing by on a tram peering down on the bumper to bumper action below”. Last time I checked the Capital Metro was running from Civic to Gungahlin, and most of the traffic nightmare was centred on the inner and south of the city, while the north was spared. Sure, things were also slow along Northbourne Ave but again this was mostly in a southbound direction.
Today however, comes the announcement the ACT Government plans to extend the light rail through The Parliamentary Triangle, into Woden, Fyshwick and onto Canberra Airport. They’re calling it the 25 year ‘master plan’ and it highlights the current government’s plans to use this type of infrastructure to attract development.
In theory, this all sounds fine. After all, the G-Link on the Gold Coast is going extremely well, and there is little doubt this major regional Australian city is benefitting from light rail. Indeed, the Queensland Government is also in the planning and approval stages of their network extending toward the hinterland via the suburbs with support from the Federal Government announced last week. The ACT government will be hoping to attract similar Federal support for the second stage of its project.
What we do know here in the ACT is the first ‘controversial’ stage of Capital Metro will run via Northbourne from Civic to Gungahlin. It’s expected to cost in the vicinity of $780 million and should be operational within four years. Again, the Government will put this before the public and ask for commentary and consultation, and this is the right course of action. However, will Andrew Barr and the out-going Simon Corbell actually listen? Depending on which survey you believe (and there are many out there), Canberrans either want or do not want this infrastructure by a slim margin.
There are many factors to consider here. First and foremost from a rate payers perspective it’s almost horrifying to think of the costs involved. It goes without saying cost blowouts in major infrastructure and developments are almost inevitable. The big question remains – and may well be answered at next years ACT Election – will Canberran’s support this vision or not?