The ACT Government was unlikely to proceed with Stage 2 of the light rail network to Woden if it had to cross the lake at Kings Avenue instead of the preferred route down Commonwealth Avenue.
In answers to Questions on Notice in its final submission to the Federal Joint Standing Committee inquiry into Stage 2, the Government says an analysis of that route shows it would cost more, take longer, carry fewer passengers and would affect the viability of an expanded network.
It would also mean about 40 significant trees planted by Charles Weston would have to be removed.
It argues that the preferred route via Commonwealth Avenue and Barton would attract more passengers, service more areas and make way for a future light rail route from Belconnen to the Airport.
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Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said that Commonwealth Avenue Bridge was the best option when considering the broader light rail network.
“Canberra is best served by a north-south light rail spine via Commonwealth Avenue, which will provide better light rail coverage through the City and Parliamentary areas, and result in higher passenger numbers, fewer significant trees needing removal and better travel times,” she said.
“An alternative via Kings Avenue would ultimately be detrimental to both the road network and the light rail network as it would force both the route to Woden and a future route to the Airport to share the same track along Constitution Avenue, creating significant delays to both routes.”
Ms Fitzharris said the ACT Government was unlikely to invest in the project should it be required to cross the Lake at Kings Avenue.
“Up until now all our planning and design has been for a City to Woden route that crosses the lake at Commonwealth Avenue. Crossing the lake at Kings Avenue to get to Woden would increase the cost to around $1.9 billion, while isolating vast areas of the city,” she said.
“Given the lasting, sub-optimal outcomes this would produce for Canberra, the ACT Government is reluctant to support it.”
Ms Fitzharris said a network view, rather than looking at each light rail corridor in isolation, would ensure future light rail routes were most effective.
“I’m not just focused on light rail to Woden. I’m now looking at where to for stage three, four and beyond,” she said.
“Ultimately we are building a light rail network that needs dedicated corridors travelling east-west and north-south, both intersecting in the City.”
She urged the Joint Standing Committee to think about the broader network and public transport outcomes the ACT Government was seeking to achieve when considering their approval processes for light rail Stage 2.
The Government also stands by the National Capital Authority’s assessment of the trees on Commonwealth Avenue earmarked for removal as being in decline with a limited life expectancy, due mainly to ageing differently in the Australian environment.
Click here to view the ACT Government submission.