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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Light rail stage two to take ‘path of least resistance’

Light rail stage two to take ‘path of least resistance’

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has announced the Government is “seriously” looking at scrapping the Barton leg of the light rail stage two route.

In a speech on Monday 3 December, where he addressed the Government’s achievements and future priorities, Minister Barr said the Government won’t allow “perfect to be the enemy of the good” in getting Commonwealth approvals.

He said that the route would most likely now be a compromise, travelling from Civic to Woden via State Circle.

“That’s the identified public transport corridor. That, in the end, is the path of least resistance in terms of needing to get changes to the inter-town public transport route that’s been in place for some time. So we’ll certainly look closely at that.

“The bipartisan committee has given a pretty clear steer on that question, particularly as it relates to State Circle and so we’ll focus on that particular part of the route where they’ve given some pretty clear guidance in terms of the next steps for us.”

The route via Barton was originally chosen as the preferred route due to the connectivity to the Parliamentary Triangle, cultural institutions and employment centres.

“Particularly from Sydney Avenue onwards, the connectivity into that precinct, that’s where we were going to go anyway. So we’re talking about a relatively small deviation from the route in front of Old Parliament House, to effectively go a block or two behind it,” Minister Barr said.

He said the Government would need to look carefully at stop locations to ensure accessibility to Barton.

“That is something that we need to focus particularly on for that very small section. But the rest of it is exactly as per the ACT Government’s preferred route.”

The Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on the National Capital and External Territories handed down a report in October, which said the ACT Government would be able to move through the approvals process far more quickly should it opt to use routes for rapid transport that were already provided for in the National Capital Plan.

An ACT Government spokesperson said following the release of the report, the Government had made a commitment to continue planning for the preferred route to Barton.

“The Government’s preferred option was based on extensive community consultation, technical analysis and discussions with a range of stakeholders, including the National Capital Authority.

“We are still doing this work. But we also said we would investigate further the recommendations of the JSC, including the State Circle option, which the NCA have now said has ‘in principle’ approval under the National Capital Plan.

“The JSC outlined a range of criteria the project needs to meet to get light rail to Woden, and the ACT Government is considering the best route alignment to achieve timely approval from the Commonwealth.”

The ACT Government is still waiting for the Commonwealth Government to respond to the JSC report. Minister Barr said a final decision on the route is expected next year, after the Federal election.

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