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Simon Corbell slams Liberals' light rail artist impression

New trees planted on Northbourne Avenue as part of development of Canberra's light rail line will be between four and five metres high.

Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell accused the opposition Liberals of misleading Canberrans on Monday as they released an artist's impression of what the road could look like without its established river gums and with tram tracks down the median strip.

The image, which shows the intersection of Northbourne with Condamine and Ipima streets, is part of an options paper on Northbourne Avenue which the opposition will release for community feedback this week. It shows small trees planted along the new tram tracks.

Mr Corbell said the city to Gungahlin tram line reference design showed tram tracks will occupy about seven metres of the total 27-metre wide median strip, leaving about 10 metres on either side for landscaping and trees.

The restored median strip would also include plantings of wild flowers, previously described as an "urban meadow".

The government expects plantings of semi-mature Eucalyptus Mannifera, also known as Brittle gum, will be between four and five metres high when planted during the construction phase of the 12-kilometre tram line.


"It is misleading," Mr Corbell said.

"It implies there will be very little tree cover when the project is complete and that is simply not the case. The corridor can accommodate a very significant amount of tree plantings."

"If the Liberals were a company, I would be referring them to consumer affairs for misleading advertising."

He said Northbourne Avenue will retain its boulevard character, despite three years of construction starting in 2016. The National Capital Authority will be involved in planning approval for the road.

Mr Corbell said he thought Canberrans understood infrastructure construction involved some disruption.

"What is important is this is a long-term investment in better public transport for our city. I think Canberrans do understand that this disruption will see an investment that will last for decades and decades."

About 860 ageing Eucalyptus elata along Northbourne Avenue will be replaced with 1000 new trees during the construction phase of the tram line. The government says the number of trees fell from 802 to just 484 between 2010 and 2014, due to failing health, storm damage and removal of dead and dangerous trees.

A 2014 assessment of the trees in the corridor found only 59 per cent of the remaining trees were healthy.

Mr Corbell said shadow transport minister Alistair  Coe's criticism of the government's figures was without foundation.

"Mr Coe doesn't have an alternative arborist's report. Unless he has one, he is simply making it up," Mr Corbell said.