As Canberra’s light rail construction rolls toward completion, many Gungahlin businesses that have been negatively affected by the works are still feeling the pain.
Liberal MLA James Milligan has renewed calls for the ACT Government to adequately assist these businesses, given delays to light rail construction have continued into 2019.
“Businesses along the light rail corridor have been hung out to dry thanks to the government’s poorly planned construction works,” Mr Milligan said.
On 6 June 2018, Mr Milligan called on the ACT Government to investigate the loss of business trade due to the government’s construction projects.
In September last year, the ACT Government tabled the Business Impact Assessment of Government-led Construction Activities in Gungahlin report.
The report found the most common impact indicated by businesses related to footfall, parking, revenues, visibility, access and noise, with 69% reporting a significant deterioration in foot traffic and an average perceived revenue decrease of 31.75% from April to December 2017.
Many businesses also felt customers were avoiding the area due to vehicular and footpath access impacts from construction activity.
In some cases, businesses in the ‘red zone’ directly adjacent to Hibberson Street, said in hindsight they would have opted to close during the construction period if given the option.
“This report highlighted a number of things the government could do to help reduce the impact of construction on trade, such as offering financial support, better signage, less road closures and greater clarity around parking and accessibility,” Mr Milligan said.
An ACT Government spokesperson said they are cognisant of the impact infrastructure projects can have on existing services, including businesses.
“It is rarely possible to completely eliminate all construction-related impacts, so the government has sought to minimise impacts during light rail construction by staging works, managing traffic and through business support and consultation.”
They said the government has been applying some of these lessons learnt to other construction activities.
“Works to upgrade the Sydney and Melbourne building verges was supported by naked fencing so that patrons could see through to the businesses, there was bespoke signage used and fortnightly construction updates were provided to keep local businesses informed.”
The spokesperson said that they will continue to work with local businesses as Light Rail stage one progresses.