13 September 2019

London Circuit to be raised as Government moves ahead with light rail Stage 2A

| Ian Bushnell
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Artist’s impression of the proposed City South station at London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue. Images: Supplied.

The ACT Government plans to kill two birds with one stone by incorporating the raising of London Circuit to connect with Commonwealth Avenue into the next stage of light rail to Commonwealth Park, as part of its ambition to bring the City to Lake Burley Griffin.

The Government announced on Tuesday that Cabinet had approved the business case for Stage 2A and it would now start one-on-one negotiations with the operator of Stage 1, Canberra Metro, for it to design and build the 1.7 km-long project, which remains subject to Commonwealth approval.

It said contracts could be signed as soon as the middle of next year, with construction starting in 2021 and the first passengers boarding in 2024.

But the Government is unable to provide any cost figures due to the coming commercial negotiations with Canberra Metro.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it made sense to continue with the existing operator, which had ‘skin in the game’ and was familiar with the environment.

Stage 2A, from Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park, just north of Lake Burley Griffin, is seen as a springboard for the more challenging Stage 2B through the Parliamentary Zone and will include three new stations and add an estimated 2500 to 3000 passengers to the system.

City West, on the corner of Edinburgh Avenue and London Circuit near the ANU, is expected to be the most popular station, with City South servicing the new residential areas of West Basin, and the southern terminus important for major events in Commonwealth Park and by the lake.

The proposed Commonwealth Park Station.

The journey from Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park is expected to take six minutes.

Mr Barr said including the raising of London Circuit to create a level intersection was a ‘clever sensible way to achieve two really good urban design outcomes’.

“This London Circuit project now will enable that southern part of the city to be more accessible to people and connect ultimately through a connection over Parkes Way to West Basin,” he said.

“This is bringing the City to the Lake, and also combines our thinking with improved public transport access by aligning the second stage of light rail with that project.”

Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel called it a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect London Circuit with Commonwealth Avenue at the same level to provide an access point for the light rail line but also better connections for walkers and cyclists through to the Acton waterfront.

City Renewal Authority chief Malcolm Snow said the idea, which has been in the National Capital Plan since 2007, had been an aspiration of Government for some time and talked about since the early 2000s.

“The road design dates back to a time when traffic engineers placed priority on cars,” he said. “Successful cities also place priority in the way in which other modes can negotiate and travel around the city, and that’s fundamental particularly to our active waterfront project but also to broader renewal effort for the city centre.”

Mr Steel said the light rail network would need extra rolling stock for the extra leg and the Government would be starting negotiations for four more light rail vehicles.

He said construction would mean disruption to businesses and commuters but the Government was working to minimise this. It has already been engaging with businesses along the route and would ensure that there would be access points for commuters into the city, such as extending Edinburgh Avenue from London Circuit through to Vernon circle.

The corner of Northbourne Avenue and London Circuit.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) referral for Stage 2A will be updated in coming weeks to include the London Circuit project but there had not been any response so far from the Commonwealth on both 2A and 2B.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcomed the Government’s decision to proceed with Stage 2A and the inclusion of the London Circuit project.

Interim chair Ryan Hemsley said it was good to see action being taken after a few too many delays.

“Commencing construction on the leg between Alinga Street and Commonwealth Park is the first important step towards bringing fast, frequent, reliable and attractive public transport to Canberra’s south, and will help retain the skilled workforce acquired during the construction of Stage One,” he said.

On the London Circuit plan, Mr Hemsley said it was good to see work planned over a decade ago was finally coming to fruition.

“This will be a really good addition to the urban amenity of the city and it finally closes the horseshoe of the city. No longer do you have to go all the way north to go all the way south,” he said.

“This is finally going to make that connection possible for pedestrians and motor vehicles and cyclists.”


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How about killing three birds with the one stone and changing the name of the Circuit while they’re at it. When I first moved to Canberra in Feb. ’66 I couldn’t believe that the main thoroughfare in the centre of the capital city of my country was named London Circuit. And I still can’t. It’s an insult.

Did I read ‘wooden leg’ or was it Woden leg?

It’s strange that the business case for this work has been approved but not released.

Oh wait, no it isn’t.

Anyone who has sat in Los Angeles traffic will know that people love their cars and had rather sit in their car for hours rather than catch public transport. So attempts to force Canberrans’ cars off Commonwealth Ave are probably doomed to fail.9

Especially when you make Bus network changes that make your trip even slower.

Capital Retro5:21 pm 11 Sep 19

The ACT Governmnet has already heavily in debt: https://apps.treasury.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/1402649/Issued-Notes-outstanding-July-2019.pdf

Details of further borrowings raised following the Chief Minister’s recent global infrastructure funding tour are yet to surface. I think enough is enough and some consolidation should made before more vanity infrastructure is committed to.

Just like there is no stop at EPIC, the diagram above show there is no stop near the Convention Centre. Indeed, the proposed route veers away from the Convention Centre. I accept that a choice must be made, but the visitors to town (those least likely to have a vehicle and the least likely to understand how the bus routes work) perhaps could be serviced a little bit better.

Just like there is no stop at EPIC, the diagram above show there is no stop near the Convention Centre

What are you talking about, there is literally an “EPIC and Racecourse” stop right outside the front gate.

There are a more people going to City West, New Acton and the ANU everyday than go to the convention centre in a month, hence the path it’s taking. Stage three will be belco to the airport and will go past the convention centre.

It’s not out the front gate it is 200m down the road! Which is by design of course. But doesn’t stop people lambasting it as being a stupid location for it.

I just don’t understand the need to raise London Circuit. Cutting through all the bull**** spin, all it seems to be about is opening up the current cloverleaf for development – at what cost I wonder…..

One could add 3 and 2 and get 32 and suggest that a buyer for that cloverleaf site is already sorted out… wouldn’t have anything to do with an unsolicited bid for a hotel that suddenly appeared out of the blue just a few weeks before this announcment would it…..

Yeah think you maths is out.

The plan to raise the height was put out there some 6+ months back before the Hilton plan and was related to making better use of the adjacent block which is owned by Barry Morris.

Only 1.7km…no competitive process…and the ratepayers don’t need to know how much it will cost. Sounds like something a communist country would do.

Capital Retro10:21 pm 10 Sep 19

Before they raise London Circuit they will have to raze London Circuit and judging by the report in Sunday’s Canberra Times that sales of Canberra apartments have collapsed 28% in the six months to June 2019 compared to the same time last year there simply won’t be any money for this or any further light rail expansion as revenue will dry up rapidly.

Strange how this damning report comes just one week after Standard and Poors gave another glowing AAA report to the ACT economy.

Lack of competitive process. No guarantee this deal wasn’t worked out behind closed doors with stage one. (Build stage 1 cheap and we’ll just extend to stage 2.)

Lack of design for the rest of the woden leg and facing not winning government.
THe fact they are trying to rush this through shows they need to complete the deal and admit defeat at the next election.

The writing is on the wall. What will Barr do next?

Lack of design for the rest of the woden leg

have you read the 2a business case? There’s plenty of detail about the design all the way out to Woden.

Lack of competitive process? Have any contracts been let yet? No.

Lack of designs for extension to Woden? You know that statement is not true. They exist and have been discussed on this forum many many times.

Election coming yes, but does that mean the government just shuts up shop? No.

HiddenDragon7:03 pm 10 Sep 19

“He said construction would mean disruption to businesses and commuters but the Government was working to minimise this. “

Similar assurances were doubtless given by the NSW Government before the business-killing construction started on their CBD tramline.

Anyway, what’s a bit of collateral damage to other people’s livelihoods when there’s a juicy pre-election gimmick in prospect – “It said contracts could be signed as soon as the middle of next year…”

Look at where the route is going, hardly any business will be effected.

The problem in Sydney was very narrow roads that relied on on street carparking, or in the CBD foot traffic. Hardly an issue on London circuit is it?

To be honest, there are very few people going to be impacted by this part of the build. There are a few businesses along the western side of London Circuit – but many of them are there to service the office buildings in the area (i.e. primarily cafes etc with a couple of pubs). The Eastern side of London circuit through there is car parking/the courts/the RBA and then the site for the Barracks development and that’s it.

Compared to stage 1, there won’t be a lot of impact.

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