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Government awards $93 million design contract for light rail Stage 2, releases new details

Ian Bushnell2 May 2021
Light rail

The proposed intersection of London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue, one of three new sets of traffic lights planned for the light rail Stage 2A project. Image: ACT Government.

The ACT Government on Wednesday (28 April) released updated delivery plans for light rail Stage 2A and announced that international infrastructure consulting firm AECOM had been selected to facilitate the design and planning approvals for the whole of Stage 2 to Woden – a $93 million contract.

The government is calling it a major milestone that will accelerate the work on the project over the next six months.

It says the first early works for 2A from the City to Commonwealth Park will commence before the end of 2021, with planning and works approvals planned to be lodged around October this year.

The start of work to raise London Circuit to meet Commonwealth Avenue is scheduled for early to mid-2022, but the government has not said when construction of the 1.7 km long wire-free alignment will start or when the project will be completed.

When pressed earlier this year, Transport Minister Chris Steel said the first track would be laid before the 2024 election.

The government has also developed a new virtual tour of the upcoming works that further detail the designs that the government will be taking forward for Commonwealth and Territory planning approvals later in the year.

The flythrough video shows three new traffic light intersections – with London Circuit at West Row, University Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue – which will prioritise light rail vehicles and make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

As the route turns onto Commonwealth Avenue, its shows tracks laid on grass separated by a line of trees in the middle of the median strip.

Mr Steel said that AECOM has been selected as the project’s technical adviser because of the firm’s proven track record delivering light rail projects and securing high-quality infrastructure outcomes for the community.

Light rail Stage 2A timetable

Light rail Stage 2A timetable. Image: Transport Canberra.

But Mr Steel said the government remained committed to local industry participation in the project, with AECOM establishing an office in Canberra where they will engage more than 160 locally based specialists to deliver the different stages of the project.

“It’s exciting to see our city’s biggest infrastructure project kicking into gear, which we expect will create over 6,000 jobs during design and construction,” said Mr Steel said.

“The benefits of this project will be long lasting for Canberra, with the creation of a frequent and reliable transport spine that better connects our major town centres and residential and employment hubs.”

AECOM’s Canberra Area Manager Karen Billington said the company was looking forward to sharing its insights from other light rail projects and working on this “transformational major infrastructure project which combines urban design, placemaking, heritage, sustainability, environment and engineering”.

At the same time, planning for the new public transport interchange and light rail station at Woden will continue, with construction works set to commence before the end of 2021.

Planning and design for the more complex Stage 2B across Lake Burley Griffin to Woden will also proceed in parallel with the Stage 2 A works, which should allow construction of 2B to get underway as the first three stops on Stage 2 become operational.

The Federal Government has contributed $132.5 million to the City to Commonwealth Park stage.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra has welcomed the government announcement, including news that the concurrent planning and approvals for Stage 2B will enable construction to flow seamlessly from Stage 2A.

“What is also significant is the clear support being given to this project by the Australian Government. This is further confirmation that an ongoing partnership is developing between the ACT and Federal Governments, which will hopefully simplify the roll-out of future light rail stages across Canberra,” PTCBR chair Ryan Hemsley said.

“We look forward to learning more about the proposed timeframes for the commencement of light rail services between the City and Commonwealth Park once the National Capital Authority has granted works approval.”

The government is seeking more feedback on the project. To learn more, visit the YourSay website.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on The RiotACT.

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