The City will invest $180 million to ensure any introduction of light rail in the city centre delivers maximum benefits for business and the community.
These benefits include removing heavy traffic congestion, making the City easier to move around for bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians, and opening up a network of vibrant lanes and small plazas that will encourage shops, bars and other small businesses to thrive.
This investment and the projected benefits depend on the State Government building light rail down George Street, which our research shows is the optimal route into the city centre. As part of this project, the City is proposing George Street be pedestrianised between Bathurst Street and Hunter Street.
The planned $180 million will be set aside in the Council's long term financial plan, and is detailed in the draft 2011 - 2014 Corporate Plan and Budget that the Council's Corporate, Finance, Properties and Tenders Committee will consider on Monday. Council will not need to borrow or increase rates or charges to provide the investment.
The $180 million would be invested in:
- new widened footpaths, drainage and other streetscape work;
- revitalising laneways;
- street lighting, signage and landscaping; and
- traffic management works.
This contrasts with the costs of congestion for Sydney businesses and residents, currently estimated at $3.5 billion a year, and expected to more than double to $7.8 billion by 2020 if nothing is done.
If Council agrees, the draft Budget and Corporate Plan will be exhibited publicly for a month. The City will also work with the State Government to consult with businesses, ratepayers, residents, motorists, commuters and other interested groups.
Feedback on the draft Budget and Corporate Plan will be considered by the Council before the end of June.