ACT News

Environmental Impact Statement for Canberra's light rail, Capital Metro project released

Canberrans will need to be schooled in how to interact with light rail if the project gets the green light, according to a draft environmental impact statement to be issued on Saturday.

Some danger for pedestrians: Chief Minister Andrew Barr, left, and Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell launch the ...
Some danger for pedestrians: Chief Minister Andrew Barr, left, and Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell launch the consultation on light rail designs in January. Photo: Jay Cronan

It finds Capital Metro may prove dangerous to residents who will be "unaware of the risks involved in using or being near light rail", because, unlike Sydney or Melbourne, Canberra has no history of it.

The statement found the unsignalised mid-block crossings proposed for Northbourne Avenue could increase the risk of collision with the tram due to the impaired line of sight from proposed trees.

Artist's impressions of the proposed Capital Metro light rail.
Artist's impressions of the proposed Capital Metro light rail. 

"Additionally, such mid-block crossings may encourage informal crossing of the Northbourne Avenue carriageway, which may increase the incidence of pedestrian accidents," the report states.

Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell said the successful bidder in the tender process would put forward an integrated design to mitigate the risk of pedestrian collision with light rail, vehicles or cars.

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"This could include signs, line-marking, lighting and landscaping treatment and segregation between road uses and the light rail vehicle," he said.

Other mitigation proposed included implementing awareness campaigns following the construction period, to inform motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about light rail and familiarise the new layout.

Health and socio-economic impacts form part of 17 broad topics discussed in the environmental impact statement.

The report is designed to identify "worst case scenarios" to mitigate potential problems before construction of the proposed stage one development of the 12-kilometre tram route between Gungahlin and the city.

The document says key issues were impacts to heritage, noise and vibration, planted trees, landscape and visual, traffic and transport, social and economic, and property and land use.

The EIS also sets out problems and mitigation strategies for biodiversity, air quality, contamination and soils, utilities and services, hazard and risk and bushfire, among others.

The 1700-plus page report, put together by Parsons Brinckerhoff with ACT government data, has been in the works since last October.

It was requested by Planning Minister Mick Gentlemen, after the project failed to fall into a category that required an environmental impact statement under ACT government planning regulations.

While overall health impacts were found to be positive, the report looked at a recent study of Melbourne's tram system and found there had been an increase in trauma resulting from trams since 2001.

"Most of these falls occurred inside trams, due to drivers braking suddenly," the report states.

"However a minority of cases involved major trauma, which were more likely to involve trams hitting pedestrians.

"In addition, there are risks from light rail vehicles colliding with other vehicles or [running into] fixed objects."

The report is a precursor to the development application for the project, which is expected to be lodged next year.

While Mr Gentlemen requested the environmental impact statement for stage one of the project, he said extensions to the light rail network may not need another statement.

The report will be open for community consultation for 20 days from Monday.

Two sessions will be held at Gungahlin library on Saturday, June 27 from 11.30am to 1.30pm, and on Tuesday, June 30 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

The remaining two will take place at Dickson library on Saturday, July 4 from 11.30am to 1.30pm and on Tuesday, July 7 from 5pm to 7pm.

The documents will be available at www.planning.act.gov.au/eislightrail