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City tram plan: $20m for Festival Plaza extension, new trams

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The State Government will extend the city tramline along King William Street to the Festival Plaza and buy three new trams, costing $20 million, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis announced this morning.

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Construction on the King William Street tramline extension and the stop adjacent the Festival Plaza is due to begin early next year, with completion expected by the end of 2017, “weather permitting”.

The Festival Plaza tram spur is the major pre-announcement in the lead-up to Koutsantonis’ mid-year budget review tomorrow.

It comes five months after the Government announced a $50 million tramline was to be built along North Terrace, to carry “up to 1000 passengers each hour”.

The Government now says the three new trams will allow for a 10-minute tram service to transport more than 2000 passengers to and from the educational, cultural, health and entertainment precincts along the Riverbank each hour.

Koutsantonis said the investment was part of the Government’s “AdeLINK” plan to “massively expand our tram network to the north, south, east and west”.

“These new trams will increase the frequency of services, while the new stop will limit disruption to the North Terrace intersection and bring passengers right to the doorstep of the Festival Centre,” he said.

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said extending the tram network would “attract investment, boost economic growth and encourage urban renewal and jobs, and bring residents and visitors to the city centre”.

“While a majority of benefit will be to public transport customers, expanding our tram network will also play a crucial role in addressing the congestion challenges we face across the metropolitan area.

“Today’s announcement continues our commitment to prioritise major transport infrastructure initiatives which will improve the day-to-day experience of South Australian public transport users.”

Mullighan told reporters this morning that the extended tram service would be a “real symbol to those people living in North Adelaide, and up in Prospect – just as the previously announced extension along North Terrace has been a symbol to people living in Norwood – that trams are coming, and they’re coming their way”.

He said building the offshoot tramline to the Festival Plaza would minimise disruption by undertaking construction work on the busy North Terrace–King William Street intersection once – rather than twice.

“We’re already extending the tram east along North Terrace, which means we’ve got quite a bit of work to do on the North Terrace – King William intersection,” he said.

“It makes sense, while we’re interrupting that intersection for those works to make sure we finish all of the works we’ll need to do in the future, if we’re bringing a tram north, towards North Adelaide.”

He said the tram extension would stimulate development.

“We know that where the trams go, there’s been a huge amount of development, and when we eventually head out east, and when we eventually head out further north, that’s what we want to see for those parts of the city,” he said.

However, he said a lack of federal support for public transport was a barrier to further tram network extensions.

“The real barrier to extending our tram network even more broadly is getting the federal government back involved in public transport,” Mullighan said.

“We had a commitment from the federal Opposition that should they have won at the recent federal election they would committed half a billion dollars to expanding Adelaide’s tram network.”

Lord Mayor Martin Haese said the project would contribute to achieving carbon neutrality for the city of Adelaide.

Mullighan suggested in April that AdeLINK could be partly funded by a “value capture regime”, with contributions from nearby property owners, councils and/or developers.

City trams travel down King William Street and the western section of the North Terrace and on to the Entertainment Centre. The closest stops to the new Festival Plaza stop are at Rundle Mall and the Railway Station.

More to come.

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