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A 19th century rail system
A former ACT government adviser and property industry lobbyist has hit out at the proposed route for the second stage of Canberra's light rail, saying the Barton detour would undermine the entire future network.
The Barr government announced in April the tram would travel through Parkes and Barton on its way from Civic to Woden, to better connect the city and Gungahlin to employment hubs, national institutions and tourist attractions in the Parliamentary Triangle.
The ACT Property Council says a detour that takes the second stage of light rail through Barton undermines future stages of the network.
Photo: SuppliedThree-quarters of Canberrans surveyed supported a route via Barton, although it takes around five minutes longer than an alternate alignment via Capital Circle.
ACT Property Council executive director Adina Cirson told a federal parliamentary inquiry while the council supported "long-term infrastructure planning that integrates land use and transport", the Barton diversion would undermine future stages of the network that have been laid out in a 25-year master plan.
Ms Cirson was planning minister Mick Gentleman's chief-of-staff when the master plan was revealed in 2015, but left to head up the ACT branch of the Property Council in 2016.
She said while the master plan was "soundly based" and used Griffin's framework of main avenues "as they were intended", the current option preferred by government removed an important interchange that would "penalise the system overall".
That interchange on Capital Circuit is critical because it can connect the Parliamentary Triangle to other parts of the city, like Canberra Airport or Kingston, while enabling stops close to Parliament House and the Barton offices, Ms Cirson told Fairfax Media.
"I'm speaking as the head of the Property Council, not someone who worked in government. My members have an interest in Woden's renewed town centre and there is a need to make the route to Woden the most efficient so people actually use it," Ms Cirson said.
In her submission, Ms Cirson wrote that while providing frequent and accessible public transport to Barton was important, the detour dulled the route's usefulness to rapidly move people between the city and Woden.
"For residents of Woden this will be a slower service than the current express bus service currently operating or driving a car. As a result, it is likely that express buses will continue to operate along Adelaide Avenue which will undermine the viability of light rail," she said.
She said the Barton diversion would "penalise many kilometres of route to and beyond Woden Town Centre".
"Woden Town Centre is in urgent need of investment and renewal. This should be prioritised with public transport that is competitive with the private car both in travel time and frequency," Ms Cirson said.
"A diversion from the primary spine would likely reduce both the incentive and the real-world ability to interchange as future stages of light rail come online."
Ms Cirson said any departures from the master plan should be assessed against the long-term health of the network and the Barton diversion highlighted a "lack of alignment between strategic planning and infrastructure planning".
"Short term imperatives should not corrupt the integrity, efficiency and coverage of the whole network and routes should not be distorted to achieve coverage that would have otherwise been delivered with the construction of later stages," she wrote.
The ACT government has previously defended choosing the Barton route, saying it was preferable in a number of ways.
Transport Canberra deputy director-general Duncan Edghill told the federal parliamentary committee examining the impact of the project on the Parliamentary Triangle while the Capital Circle route would be more direct, it would likely be more expensive because of the extra heritage constraints, the need to build another bridge and more pedestrian crossings.
A spokeswoman for stage two light rail previously said passenger modelling showed about the same level of people catching the light rail both on the Barton and Capital Circle routes, as the longer travel time for the former was offset by the number of people wanting to travel to the area.
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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