23 September 2021

Light rail works to close part of London Circuit this weekend

| Ian Bushnell
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An artist’s impression of the intersection of London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue on the light rail Stage 2A route to Commonwealth Park. Image: ACT Government.

Early works for the next stage of light rail have begun, as the ACT Government opens a competitive two-stage tender process for the raising of London Circuit to create a level intersection with Commonwealth Avenue.

The work to relocate utilities will mean a section of London Circuit will be closed for five days from this Friday.

The ACT Government says it will also necessitate changes to public parking access and minor temporary traffic changes in the city.

London Circuit between Constitution Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue will be closed temporarily from after the evening peak on Friday to Tuesday 28 September.

Traffic diversions will be in place, re-routing drivers into the city via Vernon Circle and along Edinburgh and Constitution Avenues.

A construction site compound has also been established in the car park on the corner of London Circuit and Constitution Avenue with some loss of car parks, but about 400 parking spaces – including disability parking – remain available.

READ ALSO: Is Canberra Railway Station a relic in need of a makeover, or a new site altogether?

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said the quiet time on Canberra’s roads was a good time to get on with the relocation of critical water and communications utilities assets in preparation for major construction works to raise London Circuit and deliver Stage 2 of light rail, firstly to Commonwealth Park, and then on to Woden.

“As we get on with the work of building a better public transport system, Canberrans can now expect to see early works beginning at the southern end of the CBD,” Mr Steel said.

“Work has now started on moving underground utilities from their current position along London Circuit to a new alignment on Constitution Avenue, Vernon Circle and Edinburgh Avenue.”

“By doing this work now, it reduces the risk of damage to critical utilities when we start the main construction work on raising London Circuit in 2022, and following that, building stations and laying tracks.”

These utility relocations are expected to take about nine months, with further temporary changes to local traffic arrangements expected at various times throughout this phase of work.

Any further changes will be published as new works notifications at Light Rail to Woden.

The first stage of the tender process is seeking expressions of interest from pre-qualified construction companies and closes on 14 October.

Responses will be evaluated and a shortlist of providers will then be invited to participate in the Request for Tender process later in the year.

Canberrans can expect more significant impacts on traffic, public transport and active travel routes to and from the city when the London Circuit main construction works begin in 2022.

“Raising London Circuit up to the same level of Commonwealth Avenue will create people-oriented streets, providing better connections for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport,” Mr Steel said.

More information on light rail to Woden is available at Light Rail to Woden.

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No doubt we’ll get an in depth analysis of this here (LOL) that won’t simply gloss over the fact that the project now repeatedly been shown to be unviable and is not the best option available to achieve the same level of benefits.

michael quirk7:59 am 24 Sep 21

The government has yet to provide evidence to justify the light rail extension, the viability of which is tenuous given increased working from home, ongoing Covid impacts, improvements in electric bus technology and the opportunity costs of the project.

The Productivity Commission found the pandemic increased the proportion of people working from home from 8 to 40 per cent and a high proportion of the workforce is likely to continue to work from home.

Increased working from home and fear of Covid will reduce the capacity needed to accommodate peak hour demand calling into question the need for light rail. Electric bus alternatives, operating on their own right of way, should be investigated given the reduced capacity required on the IPT and their far lower cost. The Brisbane Metro to be operational in 2024 is one such example.

Part of the government’s rational is the anticipated reduced car use of people living in higher density housing along the IPT route. Such an approach ignores housing preferences, the suitability of higher density to households with children, potential impact on detached house prices, increases in car dependent development in the region with associated environmental and financial costs. A busway may provide similar reductions in car use.

A responsible and competent government would commission an independent assessment of the extension, rather than relying on gut feeling, no matter how superficially popular.

Possible savings from the cancellation of light rail could be channeled into other areas including health and social housing and the reduction of debt.

“A responsible and competent government would”

Well there’s your first problem.

They haven’t been forthcoming with robust business cases to this point in time, they’re hardly likely to change to a transparent and evidence based position now.

And as you’ve pointed out, COVID will have significantly affected the long term viability of any extensions to the system, so there’s pretty much no chance of the government releasing any more supporting information that includes those negative impacts.

Considering it was said the Mitchell railway station cost 12million dollars to build and looks like a large carport. Perhaps the money could have been seen to building cheap housing.

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