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The state government considered bolting on a carriageway beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge or building a viaduct above two lanes of traffic for a new metro rail line but eventually decided tunnelling under the harbour was the best option.
In laying out the justification for the second stage of the $20 billion-plus rail project, a truncated version of its business case reveals that a suspended carriageway or a viaduct would have cost at least $400 million more than tunnelling under the harbour.
The two options for running a new metro line on the bridge also had a "number of constraints", such as posing a barrier to ships passing beneath or detracting from one of Australia's most famous landmarks.
"These options would also have broader network impacts during construction and operation (particularly in terms of access to the Sydney CBD for other transport modes). Consequently, these options were not progressed further," it said.
A suspended carriageway would have cost $400 million more than a tunnel. Photo: Sarah KeayesAnother option to run the metro line along lanes seven and eight on the bridge would have required connections at either end of the bridge to tunnels for the metro line.
"Unlike the tunnel option [beneath the harbour], use of the Sydney Harbour Bridge would require the use of existing suburban rail stations and platforms at North Sydney and Wynyard," the business case summary said.
"The use of existing infrastructure for the project would largely result in replication of the existing T1 North Shore Line and would not provide additional rail services to new areas."
The government eventually opted for the second stage of the metro line to run under the harbour from Chatswood to Sydney's CBD, and on to Sydenham and Bankstown.
The carriageway would limit the ability for ships to pass beneath the bridge. Photo: Christopher PearceIt has put a price tag of between $10.5 billion and $11.5 billion on the second stage, while the cost of the first section from Sydney's north west to Chatswood is $8.3 billion. The latter is due to open in 2019.
The business case summary also shows that the government considered a conversion of the existing Bankstown Line to allow it to carry metro trains to be one of the "less complex options" when it weighed up the route for Australia's largest rail project.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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