Christchurch light-rail network proposed

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2011
Christchurch light rail

Diagram of the light rail network proposed for Christchurch

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A $406 million light-rail connection between central Christchurch and Canterbury University is the first step in what could become a $4 billion city-wide network, Mayor Bob Parker says.

Plans for the network were unveiled yesterday as part of the Christchurch City Council's central-city draft plan.

If the plan is approved, work on the university route would start in 2013 and be completed by 2015, while the council would undertake a $2m study to determine whether the network should be expanded.

Parker, who had called on the council to consider a city-wide light-rail network before the earthquakes, said the university connection would allow the council to trial an idea that had proved popular with the public.

"First of all, we're saying that the community think this is really important, so let's set this first link up and see how it works," he said.

Parker had unsuccessfully asked the university to consider relocating its Ilam campus to the central city and said the light-rail connection could "hardwire" the two locations together.

The connection would provide options for student accommodation in the central city and bring extra life into the area, he said.

"There's not a successful light-rail system in the world that doesn't have a university campus on it."

Parker said the network could eventually extend to Christchurch International Airport, while Hornby, Lyttelton, Northlands and New Brighton were among other possible destinations outlined in the plan.

A full network would cost about $4b, and Parker said the council would need funding from central government if it was to go ahead.

The council had commissioned studies on the concept of a light-rail network, but the information needed to be updated to reflect the impact of the quakes on the city and residential areas.

An expanded cycle-lane network, lower speed limits in the central city and changes from one-way to two-way streets are among other changes to the city's transport system in the draft plan.

The plan proposes a 30kmh speed limit for the central city "core", while Montreal, Durham, Tuam, St Asaph, Salisbury, Kilmore, Barbadoes and Madras streets would all be changed from one-way to two-way by 2020 to reduce heavy traffic volumes along the Avon River corridor and surrounding streets.

Intersection improvements on the four avenues would create a ring route around the central city.

Parker said the changes were part of a "more balanced approach to transport", but emphasised that cars would not be excluded.

"We understand that this ain't the end of the car ... It's not about excluding, it's about creating additional options," he said.

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