ACT government given the all clear for Woden light rail project

The ACT government is continuing to develop light rail for Canberra’s south after the release of a timely report by the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories.

Minister for transport Meegan Fitzharris said the report into the Commonwealth approval processes for the City to Woden light rail route provided clarity for the people of Canberra.

“The Commonwealth Inquiry was an important opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of a city-wide light rail network for Canberra and we welcome the Committee’s recommendations,” Fitzharris said.

“The Committee clearly outlined a pathway to obtaining approvals for the project. We can now confidently continue the project’s development. The ACT government will pursue its preferred route for light rail from the City to Woden via City West and Barton.

“The planned route attracts more passengers, creates less impacts and provides critical connectivity for more national attractions, Universities, residential areas and employment centres. The route has been informed by extensive consultation with the Canberra community, with around 75 per cent of respondents supporting a route that travels through Barton.

“The Committee highlighted a number of sensitivities around building light rail in the Parliamentary triangle. We Acknowledge and respect those sensitivities and will work closely with the National Capital Authority to deliver the government’s commitment to the Canberra community to build light rail to Woden.”

Now that the Committee has released its report, the ACT government will work with the National Capital Authority on any possible changes to the National Capital Plan and continue to finalise a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) in the coming weeks, which will commence formal approval for the planned alignment.

“The ACT government is actually aware of the national significance of many locations along the City to Woden route, particularly within the Parliamentary Zone,” Fitzharris said.

“A formal assessment under the EPBC Act is a rigorous and well-established Commonwealth process to manage heritage significance.”

According to Fitzharris, the ACT government’s preferred route was designed to provide a north-south light rail backbone for Canberra.

“It will support the revitalisation of suburbs along the corridor and create more vibrant, community-focused, active and modern precincts,” Fitzharris continued.

“The Barton route also incorporates as many of the key employment hubs and national institutions as possible in the Parliamentary Triangle.

“Light rail has the potential to substantially enhance the public realm through the Parliamentary Triangle. Providing world-class public transport through the Parliamentary Zone will help alleviate traffic and parking congestion into the future.

“The ACT government remains committed to light rail from Civic to Woden and we look forward to continuing to work with the National Capital Authority and the Commonwealth on approvals processes for this important project.”

The ACT government will consider the detail of the recommendations, including implantation issues and encourages the Federal minister and the Parliament to respond to the Committee’s report in a timely way to ensure the ACT government can deliver its commitment to the Canberra community.

Further updates on the ACT government’s timeline and business case for this project will be determined in coming months. The full mid-year update and the submissions can be accessed from the Transport Canberra and City Services website.

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