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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Half of light rail network to close temporarily

The Flemington Road stretch of Canberra’s light rail network will temporarily cease operations as a stop at Sandford Street, Mitchell is constructed in the next 12 months.

That light rail stop is just one project included in a joint investment of $35 million from the Commonwealth and ACT Governments to deliver numerous infrastructure projects and road safety upgrades across Canberra.

Each government will invest $17.6 million in the matched program that is focused on bringing forward a pipeline of transport infrastructure works to create more local construction jobs to aid the ACT’s economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the local economy.

ACT Minister for Transport, Chris Steel, said there will be some disruption for public transport users while the new stop is being installed, while road users won’t be too obstructed.

“It’s been in detailed design and we will be working with Canberra Metro to deliver this stop and hopefully reduce as much as possible any delays to commuters who will have to, for a period, have some bus replacement services along Flemington Road.

“You’ll still be able to catch light rail up as far as Dickson or EPIC, but we’ll have buses running the rest of the way for a period during construction.

“We did anticipate that a new stop would be installed at this location during the construction of stage 1, so some of the utilities and those sorts of things are there ready to go,” he said.

The $12 million Sandford Street station, which will be the 14th stop on the network upon completion, will also service the future Gungahlin suburb of Kenny, which is yet to be constructed.

“We’ll have thousands of people living there in the future using that stop,” Mr Steel said.

He said the Sandford Street light rail stop would be welcomed by Mitchell traders, who have long advocated for a stop at that intersection.

“They’ve been advocates of this project and we’ll work closely with them on construction to make sure that any disruption is minimised to the area,” he said.

Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, didn’t comment directly on whether there would be further Commonwealth investment in Canberra’s light rail network, instead saying his focus was on ensuring more federal investment in the ACT at large.

“In the end, the debates about the exact transport form is a matter for the ACT Assembly. We’re happy to work with governments across the board to deliver better services.

“I’ve made representations about more investments in Canberra … all of these projects are important for Canberrans,” he said.

The Commonwealth Government invested $68 million in stage 1 of Canberra’s light rail network, which cost in total $675 million, and $770 million in transport infrastructure in the ACT since coming to government in 2013.

Other key works to be funded in the jointly funded infrastructure package include: Road safety barriers as well as variable speed limit infrastructure on the Tuggeranong Parkway between Cotter Road and Glenloch interchange; upgrades to traffic signals at 20 intersections to keep them on during power outages; a Northbourne Avenue pavement rehabilitation package between MacArthur Avenue and Mouat Street; and construction of traffic lights at four intersections, three in Belconnen and one in Woden.

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