Government set to seek Commonwealth approval for State Circle route for light rail Stage 2

Ian Bushnell 9 May 2019 29

Stage 2 will now follow a more direct route via State Circle to Woden.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed that the ACT Government has officially abandoned its preferred Barton dog-leg for light rail Stage 2 and will soon be seeking approval from the Commonwealth for a route to Woden via State Circle in a bid to fast-track the $1.6 billion project.

Mr Barr had flagged the move late last year but he told the Canberra Business Chamber in his State of the Territory address today that the Government would shortly lodge a referral for approval of the State Circle route under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“One of the steps we will take to expedite the approvals process is to now focus our efforts on a route via State Circle,” he said.

Mr Barr said the National Capital Authority had been clear that the Barton route would struggle to be supported, and that last year’s Parliamentary inquiry also clearly pointed to the State Circle route as an alternative which aligned with the original National Capital Plan and had the best chance of bi-partisan parliamentary support.

“We are optimistic that this change will mean we can get on with delivering Stage 2 of light rail sooner,” he said.

A game-changer for the project would be the election on 18 May of a Federal Labor government, which has pledged $200 million in its first budget to support Stage 2. The referral to the Commonwealth is likely to be lodged after the election.

Mr Barr said Stage 2 presented a range of challenges absent from Stage 1, particularly securing agreement from the NCA and the Federal Parliament for a route through the Parliamentary Triangle.

“Every major infrastructure project has challenges, and we will work through those with the Australian Government and Parliament because we are determined to deliver this vital transport link,” he said.

“These discussions may also take on a different tenor if there is a change of Government, given federal Labor has shown their strong support for the project by committing $200 million towards it.”

Mr Barr said Stage 2 linking the city to the Woden Town Centre was the logical next step to deliver a north-south spine for the future light rail network.

He said it would make a huge difference for congestion on the main southern approaches to the city, such as Adelaide Avenue, as the Woden region continued to grow.

The Barton dog-leg came under fire from many quarters including the Planning Institute and the Woden Valley Community Council, which preferred a direct route that maintained the integrity of the north-south spine and did not mean longer journeys than Rapid bus services.

Going through Barton would have added 15-20 minutes to a Woden-City journey.

The Government pushed for the Barton route so it could capture patronage from the public service departments, national institutions and other employment centres in the Parliamentary Triangle, and was backed by the Public Transport Association.

But the federal parliamentary committee said in October that going though Barton would require changes to the National Capital Plan, heritage and environmental conditions and light rail vehicles to be wire-free on national land, adding cost and complexity to the project.

Mr Barr has said that a compromise route would still aim to capture as much of that Barton patronage as possible.

Stage 2 will require a crossing over Lake Burley Griffin, with the favoured option being a central bridge between the two carriage ways of Commonwealth Avenue.


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29 Responses to Government set to seek Commonwealth approval for State Circle route for light rail Stage 2
HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:32 pm 10 May 19

“Every major infrastructure project has challenges, and we will work through those with the Australian Government and Parliament because we are determined to deliver this vital transport link,” he said.

“Mr Barr has said that a compromise route would still aim to capture as much of that Barton patronage as possible.”

In other words, “we are determined to have this mega-wedge in place for the 2020 Territory election, even though it will be a poor use of ratepayer’s money”. In the meantime, the fabulous….. new bus services for the southside will presumably be managed to ensure that sufficient numbers of southside voters will support the Woden tramline out of sheer desperation.

Dale Todling Dale Todling 11:40 am 10 May 19

Why not do stage 2 directly to Tuggeranong. One huge lot of traffic disruption, but, then it would be over and done with in one go.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 9:55 am 10 May 19

Why not use a bit of that 200 mil to at least take the line an extra 2km to the Mawson park and ride?

Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 7:37 am 10 May 19

So stage 2 is not happening any time soon??

maxblues maxblues 6:04 am 10 May 19

It’ll soon be time to put the rates up and slash some more bus services.

Robyn Lawrence Robyn Lawrence 12:23 am 10 May 19

What does this have to do with rhe EPBC Act. It is about nationally threatened species, not light rail routes.

liberalsocialist liberalsocialist 9:23 pm 09 May 19

If they’re talking about it being a ‘spine’ then to me that suggests there are going to be spin-offs from it, which means perhaps the eastern area’s and Barton, the southern area’s like Tuggeranong and the airport may yet get this light rail. I think it’s fantastic, and a great move that will have us all whinging about the cost for a decade or so, but using it for 70+ years.

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 8:53 pm 09 May 19

About 2/3rds of the cost of laying the track could be saved by using open ballast except where roads cross the line.

Ken Zo Ken Zo 8:42 pm 09 May 19

Dumb! Is the direct route the equivalent infrastructure decision to delivering FTTN internet? Let’s bypass the most populous work space in Canberra and all of the key national tourist attractions. That makes sense. Not!

Simon Argall Simon Argall 8:38 pm 09 May 19

Through Russell and Barton surely.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 7:25 pm 09 May 19

This should have been worked out before you started Mr Barr

Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 6:25 pm 09 May 19

Maybe wait until after the 18th 🤭👏🏻

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 6:49 pm 09 May 19

    Daniel Königs hope not. He’s a repulsive individual.

    Simon Argall Simon Argall 8:38 pm 09 May 19

    Neenie Baines is it a Federal issue?

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 8:48 pm 09 May 19

    Simon Argall ‘Seeking approval from the commonwealth’

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 8:01 am 10 May 19

    Ted Douglas they’re seeking approval, not funds. Read the article. We need federal approval to go through the parliamentary triangle. If labor wins the election we will get extra funds, but how is that different to any other infrastructure project?

Trace Hawker Trace Hawker 6:07 pm 09 May 19

How's he going to pay for it? 😡

    Janette Condon Janette Condon 6:15 pm 09 May 19

    With money.

    Jordan Bromhead Jordan Bromhead 6:23 pm 09 May 19

    Trace Hawker Rates ⬆️⬆️⬆️

    Shaun Hazell Shaun Hazell 6:26 pm 09 May 19

    Labors magic pudding

    Justin Newbury Justin Newbury 6:31 pm 09 May 19

    He is going to collect and then monetise the tears of conservatives that hate spending on public infrastructure and social services.

    Stu Cook Stu Cook 6:32 pm 09 May 19

    Justin Newbury should be able to get a tram to, say, Europe built with the funds raised that way 🥳😎

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 6:56 pm 09 May 19

    By not giving money to wealthy people.

    Justin Newbury Justin Newbury 6:37 am 10 May 19

    What does Barr’s sexuality have to do with light rail expansion exactly, you turd?

    David Jackson David Jackson 7:39 am 10 May 19

    Janette Condon yep your money and the first stage cost $188000 per metre 😂😂😂😂

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:57 am 10 May 19

    David Jackson I'd love to know how you do you your maths. Also, the cost is for 20 years of running as well. In the grand scheme of the budget is less than 1% of it for 20 years. Hardly a huge expense to Canberrans.

    Trace Hawker Trace Hawker 3:38 pm 10 May 19

    David Jackson exactly bro. More bloody tax payers money he doesn't have for now...

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 6:05 pm 09 May 19

Bad move

michael quirk michael quirk 5:46 pm 09 May 19

The extension needs to be assessed against alternatives including a busway. It is simply poor and irresponsible governance to commit to light rail without analysis. Potentially hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved and used for other purposes including improved bus services, social housing, health, education and disability services. Light rail is not an end in itself. Stop the spin and do the evualution to demonstrate the case for light rail

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