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Councillors seek Govt U-turn on tram extension

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A council push to demand the State Government revises its grand tram plan to include a right-hand turn at the intersection of King William Street and North Terrace is gathering steam, but the Transport Minister insists it would create massive delays.

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Lord Mayor Martin Haese may be forced to write to the State Government, pleading for it to reconsider the lack of a right-hand turn for trams from King William Street into North Terrace, for easy access to the East End.

However, some councillors say it would be an exercise in futility.

The Government’s tramline extension along North Terrace is designed without a right-hand turn from King William Street onto the boulevard towards the East End.

Under current plans, tram commuters travelling north along King William Street and wanting to continue on to East End will have to get off at the Rundle Mall stop and walk to a stop at Gawler Place – or alight at the stop in front of the Adelaide Railway Station and wait for another tram heading east along North Terrace.

Central Ward councillor Megan Hender has submitted a motion for tonight’s council meeting which, if agreed to, would instruct Haese to contact the Government and “confirm” that the key intersection would be designed for “maximum operational flexibility” – and that future tram services would be able to “best service the East End” by making the right-hand turn into North Terrace.

Hender’s motion has in-principle support from some councillors contacted by InDaily this morning – although many also believe it won’t make any difference to the State Government, or that it is too late for a change of course.

The council’s administration has already committed to writing to the Government on Haese’s behalf, “seeking clarification regarding the design, flexibility and service frequency of the CityLink Tram Extension Project”.

Earlier this month, InDaily revealed that the Government had considered but rejected a proposal to build tram tracks that would accommodate turns in all four directions at the King William Street / North Terrace intersection because of a $20 million extra price tag.

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan also argued such a “grand junction” would unduly impact traffic at the intersection.

However, transport experts warned that commuters would resent having to get off one tram and board another one – either at the stop in front of Adelaide Railway Station or, after a short walk, at the stop being constructed at Gawler Place.

Tram carriages could turn left and right from all directions at the King William Street / North Terrace intersection before Adelaide deconstructed its extensive tram network in the late 1950s.

In a statement to InDaily this morning, Mullighan said councillors had been kept apprised of the detailed design of the tram extension before works started late last month.

“The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure fully briefed councillors about the City Tram Extension Project before works began, including turning movements at the intersection of King William Street and North Terrace,” he said.

“Creating a junction with most or all turning movements for trams at the intersection would cause delays for all the other trams and road traffic at one of Adelaide’s busiest intersections, with approximately 60,000 vehicle movements a day.

“This extension is just the first stage of CityLINK and EastLINK, with future stages planned for a city loop and extension through Kent Town to the eastern suburbs.”

Works on the King William Street / North Terrace intersection are reportedly due to occur in early January 2018.

Mullighan added that: “As further expansions occur there will be more lines and more destinations.

“Our careful planning will ensure passengers will be able to transfer seamlessly from one service to another.”

Fellow Central Ward councillor Houssam Abiad said he would support Hender’s motion, but warned that it might provoke a request for the council to help fund a right-hand turn.

“I’m worried that a letter to the State Government might evoke a response of, ‘Do you guys want to assist in payment?’” said Abiad.

“It [a right-hand turn] will be a better outcome, obviously.

“[But] it’s cost versus everything else.”

Abiad has proposed a support package to protect struggling East End traders suffering the loss of customers after patients and staff moved from the old Royal Adelaide Hospital to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

His motion for a “Rundle Street Interim Support Package” would include parking concessions at UParks, earlier free on-street parking, and even rate concessions for East End traders.

Area councillor Anne Moran said that while Hender’s motion was “a waste of time”, and that the council should not be focusing on State Government policy, she would still consider supporting it.

“It would’ve been nice to turn right … [but] why would the council be wasting its time on that?” said Moran.

“Although I agree with her [Hender], support or not support it, it’s meaningless.”

North Ward councillor Phil Martin said he would support Hender’s motion. Area councillor Natasha Malani said: “I think it’s probably too late.”

Haese was unavailable for comment.

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