By Paul Hemsley
City of Perth Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has proposed four different options for the controversial path of the Western Australian government’s planned light rail route through the centre of the city to keep the new vehicles away from the bustling retail strips of Hay and Murray Street pedestrian malls.
Announced in September 2012 by Minister for Transport Troy Buswell, the light rail through Perth is a central element of the state government plans to help reduce traffic congestion around the city’s inner north.
The state government stated that the light rail would be funded for a total of $15.8 million, including $11.8 million from the state government and $4 million from the Commonwealth.
Perth’s proposed options have focused on using St Georges Terrace or Wellington Street instead the Hay and Murray Street Malls, which are busy pedestrian only areas that the council is averse to disturbing.
The proposed routes cut through The Terraces, an east-west route directly through the city centre expected to reduce bus movements on St Georges Terrace; Wellington Street, which diverts from Hay on to Wellington between William and Barrack.
The remaining route ideas are a “hybrid loop”, which is a single-track loop running clockwise on Wellington street, Barrack street, St Georges Terrace and William street; and a single-loop that runs anti-clockwise on William street, via Elizabeth Quey, Barrack and Wellington.
Ms Scaffidi said that Mr Buswell indicated that the final CBD route for the proposed light rail system had yet to be confirmed before the Western Australian state election that took place on 9th March, 2013.
“With the return of the government, the council now looks forward to the light rail project proceeding,” Ms Scaffidi said.
“It is a visionary project that will greatly improve passenger movements and help to reduce congestion,” she said
Ms Scaffidi asserted the council’s commitment to creating a route that does not “jeopardise” the effectiveness and appeal of the Hay and Murray Street pedestrian malls.
She said running two tracks of light rail along the Hay Street Mall would leave very little room for the thousands of pedestrians who walk along it each day.
“[It] would be of no benefit to city traders (given no stops exist along this section of the route),” she said.
“As the local government authority responsible for the CBD, it is vital that the State Government takes into account the planning expertise and experience we have in regard to the area.”
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