7 September 2020

Light rail enabling works on Barr's Budget wishlist to PM

| Ian Bushnell
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Commonwealth Avenue Bridge

Works on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge are on the ACT’s infrastructure list. Photo: File.

Enabling works for light rail Stage 2, new cycle paths and a call for the Commonwealth to follow the ACT’s lead on electric vehicles are included on a list of infrastructure projects sent to the Prime Minister by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

The list, involving Commonwealth land or assets, was sent after a request at Friday’s National Cabinet for the ACT to provide some specific ideas ahead of next month’s Federal Budget.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the project costs range from $100,000 to $10-20 million, the bigger ones supporting developments such as Canberra Light Rail Stage 2a, the Edinburgh Avenue Extension, and the Section 100 and Section 63 developments.

He said they could be procured very quickly and create work, and also benefit users of the Parliamentary Triangle.

Mr Barr has proposed that utilities be removed from Commonwealth Avenue Bridge during planned strengthening work so they would not pose problems during future developments such as the light rail crossing of the lake.

The ACT’s preference is for them to go under the lake.

Also on the agenda are improvements to Vernon Circle and landscaping on City Hill.

Mr Barr has proposed that the Commonwealth Park road entryway be re-aligned, that Barrine Drive be removed and new traffic lights be installed at the intersection with Albert Street to facilitate the Acton Waterfront and light rail.

Cycle projects include a reseal of the Lake Burley Griffin asphalt path and/or pavement repair between Black Mountain Peninsula and Scrivener Dam; a floating walkway behind the National Gallery, and the Kings Avenue Bridge to Kingston Foreshore section, including Bowen Park, on the City to Queanbeyan cycle route; and the Molonglo to City route stages 1 and 2.

Mr Barr also wants a review of Parkes Way including the potential removal of Coranderrk Pond, a new stormwater pollution trap in Glebe Park and a redesigned Parkes Way intersection; and the removal of Wendouree Drive in Russell along Lake Burley Griffin, and a new Parkes Way service road and car park.

He has previously flagged that for a new stadium to fit on to the Olympic Pool site there would need to be changes on Parkes Way, including to Coranderrk Pond. The former Land Development Agency canvassed its removal in 2015 when contemplating the development of the Reid CIT site, now slated for UNSW Canberra.

Outside the city, new traffic lights are proposed for the intersection of Owen Dixon and William Slim drives, a new southbound bridge over Ginninderra Creek and a new underpass to accommodate a widened carriageway.

This intersection upgrade would cater for planned population growth in the area, primarily from the Ginninderra East development on former CSIRO land.

Apart from roads and bridges, Mr Barr has called on the Commonwealth to modernise its 1000-strong vehicle fleet with electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles, and install about 160 electric vehicle charging points at Commonwealth buildings and institutions in the Parliamentary Triangle.

Mr Barr says the ACT Government had found that there was now about a four-year payback for its scheme and that the vehicles compared favourably with internal combustion engine vehicles when the fuel savings are taken into account.

”We have a working model,” Mr Barr said. ”If they were to take that step, together with putting in some charging infrastructure in the Parliamentary Triangle, it would go a long way to driving the electric vehicle revolution in this city, even further, even faster.”

Mr Barr told the Prime Minister that these projects not only provided economic growth opportunities for the ACT region but were also directly beneficial to the Commonwealth Government.

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