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TRANSPORT Minister Gladys Berejiklian featured in a draft document praising her department’s preferred route for light rail in Newcastle shortly before the government dumped it for a plan almost $100million more costly that gave greater opportunity to property developers.
A draft public consultation document dated December 2013 and stamped ‘‘cabinet-in-confidence’’ features a message from Ms Berejiklian.
She explains the government’s preferred light rail route runs along the existing heavy rail corridor, which was to be truncated to make way for light rail.
She describes the plan as a ‘‘sustainable approach for the city centre’’ and the result of ‘‘rigorous assessment’’.
The document, which was in the process of being updated, says that the preferred option ‘‘avoids the need to make changes to traffic signals, on-street parking, taxi stops, loading zones or planned separated cycleways’’ on an alternative route down the main thoroughfare of Hunter Street.
But, on December 23, Ms Berejiklian and then planning minister Brad Hazzard announced the government was considering two options: the preferred route along the heavy rail corridor and another along Hunter Street.
In May 2014, the government announced it had chosen a ‘‘hybrid’’ route running a small way along the rail corridor but also along Hunter Street, despite Transport for NSW having confidentially advised this could cost almost $100million extra and deliver a slower service.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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