Contractors are finally breaking ground today (10 October) on the long-awaited project to raise London Circuit, an essential precursor to the construction of the 1.7km long Light Rail Stage 2A to Commonwealth Park.
The project will create a level intersection with Commonwealth Avenue to facilitate light rail’s right-hand turn from London Circuit towards the lake.
Instead of the current underpass, London Circuit will be reconstructed using 60,000 cubic metres of fill on either side of Commonwealth Avenue, lifting the road six metres to form a four-way intersection with traffic lights and sufficient space to accommodate light rail.
Two of the existing cloverleaf ramps will be removed, with access routes via Edinburgh Avenue and Constitution Avenue channelling traffic to the city’s west and east.
The ACT Government is touting the start of major works today as proof that it is getting on with delivering the light rail extension, although the laying of the track is still at least two years away.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the work was a significant step in the overall light rail project.
“Connecting London Circuit to Commonwealth Avenue is a significant step forward for light rail, activating the southern part of Canberra’s CBD, Canberra Theatre precinct and providing better connections to the Acton Waterfront,” he said.
“This investment will support hundreds of jobs and enable thousands more as we get to work on building the important infrastructure our growing city needs.
“The construction starting today shows we are getting on with what we promised to do at the election.”
Minister for Transport Chris Steel said raising London Circuit was one of the most significant changes to the road network in central Canberra since the 1960s.
“This project will make sure Canberra grows as a sustainable, vibrant and connected city, with better access between the city and the lake,” he said.
“The transformation of London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue will create a better environment for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.
“We are not only building the platform for light rail to turn from London Circuit onto Commonwealth Avenue, but removing barriers for cyclists and pedestrians moving through the southern part of the city.”
Work has now started to install temporary traffic lights and a new bus lane at the northern side of Vernon Circle.
This will support safe movements onto Constitution Avenue and London Circuit when London Circuit closes between Constitution Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue later this year.
A new footpath and pedestrian signals on City Hill between Constitution Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue are also being built to provide more options to walk around the city during and after construction.
Once the traffic lights have been installed, crews will start to build up the road on London Circuit between Constitution Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue to create a level intersection.
But as flagged, the works will cause significant parking and traffic disruptions that will last for years.
The government says commuters should rethink their routine when travelling to the city, especially during the morning peak.
Canberrans should also sign up to receive regular email updates as construction continues to be aware of changed conditions and alternative travel options.
The government will continue to advise of traffic and parking changes ahead of time throughout construction.
Work to build the new City Hill footpath and to install traffic lights and a new bus lane at Vernon Circle is expected to take eight to 12 weeks.
The entire London Circuit project is expected to take two years.
Mr Steel said last week that contract negotiations were continuing with light rail operator Canberra Metro. A Works Approval was expected to be lodged with the National Capital Authority by the end of the year, with procurement to be finalised next year.
Details on upcoming traffic and parking changes can be found at BuiltforCBR.act.gov.au/travel-impacts.