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Surprise twist in plans for Norwood tram extension

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Labor’s preferred route for its promised tram extension to the eastern suburbs cuts through the iconic “green island” median strip on Osmond Terrace before turning right onto Magill Road, InDaily can reveal.

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Over the weekend, Premier Jay Weatherill promised a re-elected Labor Government would spend $279 million extending the new North Terrace tram corridor down East Terrace, up Rundle Road and onto The Parade, terminating near George Street.

However, InDaily can reveal that the preferred route to extend the EastLINK tramline further east will link The Parade to Magill Road by cutting through the large median strip along the centre of Osmond Terrace.

The EastLINK consultation document produced by the Government acknowledges likely “reticence to impact on the green island with associated trees and sculptures” on Osmond Terrace.

It is unclear how many trees or sculptures would have to be removed or relocated as a result of the planned EastLINK tramline extension, but a diagram contained within consultation documents for the preferred route shows trams taking up about two-thirds of the green strip.

The Labor Party’s preferred route to extend EastLINK runs down Osmond Terrace, up Magill Road to St Bernards Road with a spur along The Parade to Parade Central. Image: supplied.

The Osmond Terrace north-south route would take trams up to Magill Road, continuing along the key suburban road before turning left to terminate at the University of South Australia’s Magill campus on St Bernard’s Road.

The plans show that last 300-metres of the extension announced on Sunday – which runs along The Parade to the areas central cinema, hospitality and retail hub, is essentially a spur line.

A tramline along Osmond Terrace, segregated entirely from traffic, is considered superior to placing trams on the road.

The ‘preferred’ option for a tram service down Osmond Terrace would take up much of the median strip. Image: supplied.

Consultation so far, detailed in the document, shows that Labor still has many people to convince about the benefits of tram travel, with just under a third of respondents saying they didn’t support the EastLink proposal at all.

It is unclear what proportion of respondents actively support EastLINK because responses from “supportive” to “hesitant” are lumped in as a single figure – 54 per cent.

The consultation documents caution against replicating the tram network in Melbourne – where carriages share the road with cars.

The Victorian city has “the largest, but slowest tram network in the world” and would need about 100 fewer trams if they did not have to compete with traffic, the documents say.

It follows that allowing cars to share the tram lane on Osmond Terrace would slow the service and make it less reliable, Government transport planners have reasoned.

A third option – building tram tracks along the road but excluded traffic – would knock out car parking along the key corridor.

Six potential north-south connections were considered to link The Parade and Magill Road, but problems with the design of the Portrush Road/The Parade intersection ruled out those options to the east of Portrush Road. Osmond Terrace and Queen Street were deemed the most viable of the westerly options.

Despite the expected “reticence” among locals to use the Osmond Terrace median strip as a new tram route, Queen Street was considered an even less palatable option.

“(Queen Street) was ruled out for a number of reasons including the likely push back from Queen Street residents,” the documents say.

Rethinking the purpose of Adelaide’s public transport system

Consultation documents for the EastLink and ProspectLink tram extensions also advocate a major re-think of Adelaide’s public transport network, which is currently dominated by buses, and a move away from the city’s heavy reliance on cars.

They say that the primary goal of Adelaide’s public transport has been to maximise coverage, so that most people live close to a service.

However, this approach has meant poor frequency of services for many bus routes in the outer suburbs of Greater Adelaide.

The public transport system in Adelaide has been “dominated by buses that compete with, rather than complement, our backbone services (train, tram and O-Bahn),” the documents say.

“These backbone services have a much greater passenger capacity and are separated from general traffic, making them much more reliable, with better travel times.”

Government traffic planners want a transition from this high-coverage service model to one with services that link cohesively part of a “coordinated system” to “provide better travel times for passengers and improve the frequency and reliability of services”.

Under the proposed model, feeder bus services would take passengers to “backbone” train, tram and O-Bahn services, which would be complemented by high-frequency ‘GO ZONE’ bus services along key routes.

Meanwhile, planners argue that Adelaide’s increasing reliance on cars over the past several decades “has had a number of negative implications, not only for our environment, but the health and wellbeing of our communities”.

Though private car travel had given outer suburban areas Adelaide’s strongest residential growth, employment growth had been strongest in the inner suburbs, creating an “imbalance (that) has major implications for the transport system and contributes to peak hour congestion”.

Large trams move people with far greater efficiency than cars, the documents say.

“Tram services can move between 4000 and 20,000 people per hour in one direction, in space equivalent to one lane of road traffic,” one of the consultation papers reads.

“The same space dedicated to an arterial road lane could only move 800 cars – about 1000 people.”

Large trams such as those operating in the Gold Coast can carry up to 300 passengers at once.

“Replacing 300 car drivers with one tram … can essentially replace a 2km (motor vehicle traffic) queue with a 43 metre tram.”

Tramline along “narrow” Prospect Road has its pros and cons

Weatherill also announced this morning that a re-elected Labor Government would spend $259 million sending trams up O’Connell Street, the with ProspectLINK to be further extended along Prospect Road.

Consultation documents for ProspectLINK, also obtained by InDaily, acknowledge several disadvantages of the future Prospect Road extension.

These include the fact that the main street is relatively narrow, that a tram service there would heavily impact on bus services, that it would potentially impact heritage property and that it could impede access to the Braun Road Bicycle Boulevard.

However, the advantages of the route included a large nearby resident population, the 40km/hr traffic speed environment and the capacity for rear laneway parking.

Unlike consultation results for EastLINK – where opinions ranging from very strong support to hesitancy were lumped together – the ProspectLINK consultation results are clearer.

They show equal support and dissatisfaction with the plan: 26 per cent of respondents “very strongly” support it while 26 per cent support it “not at all”; 15 per cent “slightly” support it while 15 per cent support it “not really”; the remaining 18 per cent of respondents were “hesitant” about ProspectLINK.

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