Construction begins on ACT light rail depot at Mitchell
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Construction begins on ACT light rail depot at Mitchell

Canberra's ministers have dug the first hole at the Mitchell depot to mark the beginning of construction for the ACT government's controversial light rail project.

But major track works and landscaping will not begin until late 2016 and completion is planned for 2018.

The $70-million depot on the corner of Sandford Street and Flemington Road will be the heart of the Civic to Gungahlin line, housing the operating centre and maintaining the trams.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris called the beginning of works an exciting milestone.

ACT ministers Simon Corbell, Meegan Fitzharris, Andrew Barr, and Shane Rattenbury turn the first sods of the Light Rail project.

ACT ministers Simon Corbell, Meegan Fitzharris, Andrew Barr, and Shane Rattenbury turn the first sods of the Light Rail project. Credit:Rohan Thomson

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"Certainly people will see the depot here start to come out of the ground [before the ACT election in October], but we will start to see more major work later in the year," Ms Fitzharris said.

"We are really pleased today to see the construction underway. People will see it everyday as they drive past and we will see new jobs start to be created because we have a new industry in Canberra."

Glenn Stockton from Canberra Metro said 70 local jobs had been created to date.

He could not specify how much money the ACT government would be spend on the construction in the lead up to the election.

A joint statement released by Ms Fitzharris and Chief Minister Andrew Barr said most work would take place between 7am and 6pm Monday to Saturday but some would fall onto Sundays and overnight.

"To minimise impacts on traffic movements, the route will be divided into six working zones and each zone will be subdivided into smaller construction areas," it read.

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"There will be a range of mitigation measures in place to reduce the impacts of construction, and the community will be provided updates before construction activities begin in each zone."

The 12-kilometre tram line from Gungahlin to the city will cost ACT taxpayers $939 million in today's dollars, including operations, capital and financing.

Clare Sibthorpe is a reporter for The Canberra Times