NOVOCASTRIANS will be catching light rail down Hunter Street by 2019, says the state government, but the city council’s push for the line to run through the mall appears to be dead in the water.
In his first advertised visit to Newcastle of 2016, the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance will on Tuesday announce new details of the proposed light rail system, including where the service will stop, how often it will run, and how many passengers it will carry.
He’ll also outline a timeline for the project, with enabling works expected to get underway later this year before major construction begins in early 2017, and services start in 2019.
Before his visit, the minister said the new details meant the light rail system was “taking shape” alongside “the vision of a reinvigorated, connected city that has a modern transport system”.
Key details to emerge from Mr Constance’s visit will include:
The Newcastle Herald can also reveal that the project’s long-awaited Review of Environmental Factors will be released on Thursday, along with an update on options for extending the light rail network.
“This is an opportunity for people to learn more about this project and share their thoughts,” Mr Constance said.
But in a blow to Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes’, Mr Constance is expected to confirm the government will stick with its preferred route, beginning at the Wickham transport interchange and terminating in Pacific Park.
The lord mayor had pushed for the line to run through Pacific Park before looping back through the Hunter Street Mall.
The government will also ignore council’s call for a mixed running line down Hunter Street, with light rail vehicles to run in a dedicated lane, and share a lane with cars for only a small section of Scott Street.
NEWCASTLE has a new transport tsar.
As part of his visit to Newcastle on Tuesday, the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance, will announce roads and maritime officer Anna Zycki as the city’s new “coordinator general”.
Similar to the government’s CBD co-ordinator general in Sydney, Ms Zycki will be tasked with overseeing all major transport projects in the city centre.
Ms Zycki, who has been the regional manager for roads and maritime in the Hunter for three years, will be tasked with keeping a handle on projects including the light rail and the new Wickham transport interchange.
It’s unclear at this stage what her role will be in government’s flagged privatisation of the city’s transport system, but according to Mr Constance’s office her job will include looking after “bus and traffic network improvements”.
The job won’t be easy – part of the position description includes working with the city’s various interest groups, including Urban Growth, the city council, and “the broader community”.
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