The ACT Government has dumped its original contractor for the Woden interchange, handing the job to Lendlease, which will also deliver the Woden CIT campus in a combined contract worth $325.1 million.
The $30 million contract for the interchange, which will include light rail stops in preparation for when the line is extended to Woden, was awarded to Huon Contractors last year, but the government believes it would be no more efficient for one contractor to build the interchange and the CIT campus as an integrated project.
Major Projects Canberra chief Duncan Edghill said the initial contract was designed so the government could change horses without penalty to the taxpayer and all parties had agreed to the new arrangement.
He said Huon’s work, particularly the relocation of utility services, had given the project a great headstart.
“As the project has evolved, and as we’ve continued negotiations with Lendlease, it has become clear that there are real benefits to be had by bringing both of those packages of work back together,” he said.
The new contract comes with changes to the delivery program, including constructing a temporary bus interchange on a section of the Matilda Street car park while work is underway on the campus and interchange.
Transport and Skills Minister Chris Steel said this would start operating next year and addressed community feedback about safety and access during the first phase of the interchange works.
He said most of the interchange would now be completed in 2024 and ready to be opened along with the CIT campus in 2025.
New features of the project based on community feedback include a large all-weather canopy linking the campus and the interchange, more greenery and stronger connections through to the existing shops and services.
The 22,500 square metre campus will also include a 6-star Greenstar building using more sustainable building materials, including a timber superstructure, low-carbon concrete, all-electric systems, electric vehicle chargers and internal gardens.
A pedestrian boulevard will link the interchange to Woden Town Square, and a new Bowes and Bradley Street local shared zone will be established.
Mr Steel said development applications would be lodged later this year for the demolition of the existing interchange and the construction of the CIT campus, with work expected to start next year.
“The construction of a new temporary interchange will enable us to undertake work on one side across both the new interchange on Callum Street and also the CIT campus, and that’ll provide much safer connections for pedestrians to move through around the construction zone,” he said.
The campus will also provide a previously announced Youth Foyer accommodation block for 20 disadvantaged students, to which Federal Labor has pledged $10 million.
Mr Steel said he would be talking to the incoming minister about when that funding will be available, as well as the new infrastructure minister about funding for light rail Stage 2B and hoping to achieve a 50-50 agreement.
The Coalition Government contributed $100 million to Stage 2A, which Mr Steel said was below that ideal 50-50 arrangement.
“I hope that we will be able to get closer to that 50-50 funding for light rail,” he said.
“I think we’ve got a [new federal] government that is willing to open the door and listen. They understand this project and the new Finance Minister [Katy Gallagher] closely understands this project as well.
“It’s going to make a big difference for us to be able to work with a government that supports rail infrastructure around the country.”
Leadlease building managing director David Paterson said the company was confident it would meet the current timeline given the supply chain issues besetting the construction industry across the nation.
“There is no doubt that the whole supply chain and the construction industry has been challenged,” he said.
“Lendlease is now well versed in managing a number of those challenges in supply chains. We absolutely will deliver on our commitments that we have made to the Territory.
“We have a number of strategies that we have developed to ensure that, and clearly one of those is local participation and using the local industry to ensure that we will deliver on those obligations.”
He said Leadlease was aiming for about a 60 per cent reduction in embodied carbon in the CIT Woden building.
Lendlease has also committed to Indigenous and female employment targets and significant investment in trades skills and apprentices.
It will aim for a target of 10 to 15 per cent of women working on the project and a target of 10 per cent of labour made up of trainees and apprentices, including CIT students.
The overall project is expected to create 520 local jobs and apprenticeships.