29 November 2021

Callam Street in Woden closed from today as light rail works begin

| Lottie Twyford
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Artist's impression of light rail interchange Woden

Callam Street in Woden will be closed to traffic from today to allow light rail works to commence. Image: ACT Government.

Woden’s Callam Street will be shut to traffic from today (29 November) as major works commence on the town centre’s new public transport interchange and light rail stop.

The section of Callam Street between Bradley and Matilda streets is now permanently closed to all private vehicles, although buses will maintain current routes and there will not be any delays to the public transport network due to the works.

Motorists can now use Melrose Drive, Yamba Drive, Launceston Street and Bowes Street to access the Town Centre.

During the first construction phase, Callam Street will also be closed between Bradley Street and Launceston Street.

Matilda Street has also been closed with access for buses only and limited motorist access for the Hellenic Club.

The Matilda Street car park will be accessible off Bowes Street. A section of Launceston Street will also close over the next few months to install new traffic light intersections.

It’s expected the new public transport interchange, which will form the first major component of the new CIT precinct, will be operational in late 2022. Until then, the existing bus station will remain in use.

The new CIT will eventually be built on the site of the old interchange.

Chris Steel

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said he understands the impact light rail construction will have on commuters and businesses. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said he understood the works will create some short-term disruption.

Mr Steel thanked Woden residents and businesses for their patience, noting “better public transport services and a more vibrant town centre for Woden” were on the way.

“The new interchange will realise the Woden Master Plan’s vision for an interchange along Callam Street with 18 new stops – up from the current 11 – and includes construction of Woden’s light rail terminus.

“The projects will support more than 500 jobs and deliver on two major infrastructure projects promised at the 2020 election,” he said.

According to Mr Steel, when complete, more than 10,000 commuters will move through the interchange each day while the CIT campus will be home to 6,500 students.

It’s hoped the two projects will reshape the eastern side of the town centre, making it livelier for local businesses and residents.

READ ALSO: Light rail business roundtables and traffic survey prepare for disruption

Major works will also soon be underway north of the lake, with years of disruption anticipated for businesses and commuters.

The enabling works for Stage 2A to Commonwealth Park have begun, and the project to raise London Circuit is expected to start in April next year. Businesses in the busy Civic West precinct are expected to face similar disruptions to trade as Gungahlin businesses did during the first stage of construction works.

The first tracks for the next stage are expected to be laid in 2024.

Mr Steel has previously described the project bringing light rail to Woden as Canberra’s “biggest ever”.

Residents and businesses are invited to attend a community information session on all Woden projects currently in progress on Tuesday, 7 December. More project and construction information is also available online.

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michael quirk7:40 am 30 Nov 21

If the light rail extension to Woden is such a great project, the government should have no issues with providing justification for the project. In particular, it needs to demonstrate light rail it is more cost effective than Bus Rapid Transit BRT). BRT is likely to provide similar city shaping benefits at far lower cost. Mr Steel, in the interests od transparency and accountability provide the analysis if it exists. If it does not, defer the project and engage an independent consultant.

It is not sufficient to say the government has a mandate given it was part of the government policy at the last election. The government would have been re-elected if light rail had not been part of its policy platform, given the social conservatism of the Liberals. The electorate also was not informed of the great cost of the project or the disruption it would cause. Given the many unmet needs in the community including health, housing and city maintenance, the government needs to explain why it is spending potentially hundreds of millions of dollars more than is necessary on meeting the city shaping and transport task on the inter-town public transport route to Woden

Capital Retro7:57 am 30 Nov 21

One of the reasons to move to trams was the virtue signaling fact that they had no carbon/greenhouse emissions coming out an exhaust pipe like the buses do.

Since the decision to go to the first stage of a tram to nowhere network green electric buses have come of age and indeed the same government is ordering them but incredibly they won’t be used to replace the efficient but “dirty” buses. Instead, a tram system which costs heaps more and slower than the buses it is replacing will be implemented.

It’s definitely about urban renewal and not about public transport.

michael quirk11:56 am 30 Nov 21

Yes,but it is by no means certain that light rail stimulates urban redevelopment more than BRT. Much depends on design of the system. The government is loose with the truth and believes it can to whatever it wants given the weakness of the opposition

Capital Retro3:22 pm 30 Nov 21

Trams are sexier than buses.

thatsnotmyname2:40 pm 29 Nov 21

Great to see this project finally underway.
Very much needed and will be great for future generations.

Capital Retro3:18 pm 29 Nov 21

Well, the future generations will be paying for it so it’s the ACT Labor/Green government’s legacy to them.

And it’s very much NOT needed.

thatsnotmyname3:47 pm 29 Nov 21

Good legacy to leave behind IMO.
Thanks your opinion.

The cost of all the road works is actually buggering up the network for cars which is 95% of the road users.

Saying its a great legacy is like saying that covid is going to be great for generations.

I do hate it when politicians lie through their teeth. Steel and his cronies should not be in office but the mug punter Canberrans are going to wake up one day to the cost especially and the less than efficient transport system and say, “why weren’t we told”. Longer travel times do not bring more passengers. Better transport? Nope. For 30 years we have catered with a heavily subsidised transport system and more and more folk are taking theirt cars-it’s just more convenient. If you want an ongoing sub standard health system, bad roads, less community facilities etc-then go for it. But you have been told. Thousand rallied re the vaccine mandate and this is one of those important aspects also. Stand up and be counted Canberra.

No it so sure about your statement that longer travel times don’t bring more passengers.

In the act we already have an example of where the opposite is true. The old 333 between Belconnen and City used to be much faster than the 3xx’s are today. I. The old days it was under 15 minutes. But by rerouting it via college street and Haydon Drive in Bruce it added 10 minutes to the trip but significantly more passengers as it serves more places along the way.

And the main reason the Woden line will be slower is because it will stop more (serving more places) and also route via the edge of the park triangle.

So sure May loose some passengers going city to Woden but likely to pick up more by stopping more and serving the triangle.

Capital Retro5:37 pm 29 Nov 21

It’s getting more like the Bermuda Triangle every day, JC. Losing more than passengers.

Not sure about the adding 10 minutes to the 333 journey by changing to go past College St and UC. The change Only added 1.2km to the journey distance and from my days working at ABS over the route change it only added about 4 minutes, often less.

As for bus use patronage increases since that route change most of the gains have been from the additional apartments and population growth in Belco town centre, the removal of buses like the old 435 direct from Belco to Barton via Civic, the 464 through Cook and Aranda to Civic, UC student numbers more than doubling and buses taking people from the Suburbs into the Belco Town Centre for the bus transfer, instead .

Making public transport trips slower is a proven driver of reduced use of the service. You saw it in the parts of Canberra that had slower bus trips after the 2019 changes.

I think your drawing a long bow JC finding a correlation between the 333 Belco bus route changes and it generating increased bus use. The percentage of people in Belconnen taking the bus decreased over the period of the route change according to the ABS Census. Canberra bus use % has actually declined over the decades.

That makes no sense. Your comparisons are 20-25 years apart. The “new” bus route takes longer because it services a bigger area and since Canberra is a substantially bigger City now than when the 333’s were running, even though the service takes longer, the service will pick up more people.

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