Cutting down trees on Northbourne Avenue to build the light rail line would see the road losing its status as the boulevard entrance to the city, the Canberra Liberals will argue this week.
Releasing an artist's impression of what the road could look like without its established river gums and with tram tracks down the median strip, opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe said Northbourne Avenue would resemble a highway.
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.
About 860 trees will be cut down along the planned route's footprint, including on Northbourne Avenue, Hibberson Street, and around a new city terminus and a depot at Mitchell. The government said in June it would plant new Eucalyptus mannifera or brittle gums on the route as well as an "urban meadow" of native flowers.
Mr Coe said the computer aided design image had been created using information about Australian transport standards for light rail track gauges, power pole heights and interval spacing.
"The opposition commissioned some work with regard to various options for Northbourne Avenue. One of those options that is on the table, the only one from the government, is light rail," he said.
"We think it is important to show people what it is going to look like and we think this is probably a pretty fair representation. A lot of the images that we have seen so far from the government have gums overhanging high voltage power lines."
Mr Coe said artist's impressions released by the government showed fully matured trees of a similar height to those that will be cut down.
"You see very implausible pictures of light rail going down the Northbourne median and we think this image might better capture what light rail will look like under the government's proposal.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," he said.
Mr Coe said the evidence about tree condition did not match the government's rhetoric about the need to replace them.
A 2014 assessment commissioned by the government found of the trees in the light rail corridor, only 59 per cent were healthy. A similar 2010 study found some of the trees on Northbourne could remain in place for 20 years.
"The vast majority of trees along Northbourne Avenue have a useful life of more than 20 years," he said.
"It does go to show that a tree-lined straight road is a boulevard. A straight road without trees resembles a highway.
"I think that's what we start to get there with this Northbourne Avenue image. It becomes a straight expanse going for many kilometres."
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