Another milestone has been reached in the extension of light rail with the ACT Government signing a $60 million, two-year contract with civil engineering firm Abergeldie Contractors to raise London Circuit.
The project, which will pave the way for the light rail extension to Commonwealth Park via City West, will cost $100 million in total, with $40 million going towards early works such as utility relocations and design.
It will also mean the start of several years of major disruptions for commuters, particularly those who regularly traverse the southern gateway to the city.
The London Circuit project will take two years but be followed by light rail Stage 2A and eventually 2B across the lake to Woden.
About 60,000 cubic metres of fill will be used to raise London Circuit by six metres to form an at-grade intersection with Commonwealth Avenue with dedicated cycle paths.
Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said commuters would start to notice significant work happening from November, but the biggest disruption will come in April next year when the bridge over London Circuit on the eastern side of the city is demolished.
A number of diversions, new lights and other strategies will be deployed to help keep traffic moving.
The government will install traffic lights at the Coranderrk Street roundabout on Parkes Way where traffic is expected to increase. Construction will start soon and is expected to be completed before the most disruptive period of works in 2023.
Temporary traffic lights on the northern side of Vernon Circle will also be installed to allow safe right-turn movements onto Constitution Avenue and London Circuit for public transport.
For pedestrians, new signals and a path around City Hill will be built, linking Edinburgh Avenue and Constitution Avenue.
Two of the existing cloverleaf ramps will be removed as part of the works, with alternative access routes via Edinburgh Avenue and Constitution Avenue, channelling traffic to the city’s west and east.
Canberrans can also expect road, bus and traffic diversions, as the section of London Circuit between Edinburgh Avenue and Constitution Avenue will be closed for the duration of construction.
Mr Steel said commuters could expect delays of about five minutes for people using the major approach routes into the city from the south, such as Kings Avenue and Parkes Way, as well as some delays for people coming from the north of the city into the CBD.
But the government will also be asking commuters to rethink their routes and travel times and consider using public transport, with buses to be given priority during the construction phase.
The other work commuters will have to negotiate is the Commonwealth Bridge strengthening and widening program, which the government will coordinate with the NCA to minimise disruption.
The government has established a new website builtforCBR.act.gov.au for commuters to find regular updates on the project.
Mr Steel said preparatory work was continuing on Stage 2A light rail, and a Works Application should be lodged with the NCA by the end of the year.
He said infrastructure firm AECOM was developing designs and the government was working on procurement with Canberra Metro.
“We expect before the end of the year that we’ll be able to show the community where we’re up to, and the design will be lodged with the Works Approval to Stage 2A of the project,” Mr Steel said.
“At the moment, we’re just finalising the development of the preliminary sketch plan.”
AECOM was also working on the environmental impact statement, which was critical in getting approval started on Stage 2B, he said.
Mr Steel said raising London Circuit would support many key projects in the city, including the extension of light rail to Woden, the renewal of the Canberra Theatre precinct and better connections to the Acton Waterfront.
He said the census data showing Canberra’s strong population growth only reinforced the need for infrastructure such as light rail.
“Mass transit is going to be critical to moving large numbers of people around our city when we hit a city of 500,000 and beyond in future decades ahead,” he said.