Shining a light on light rail

Around 450 people came to Monday night's public meeting at Sydney Boys High to hear from Transport Minister Gladys Berejikilian about the plans for light rail in Surry Hills.

The Government's announcement last December that their preferred light rail route through Surry Hills was along Devonshire Street came as a surprise.

I asked the Minister to meet with the community because I shared concerns about the lack of detail and consultation on this part of the project; and was concerned about the potential impacts on residents and businesses in Surry Hills as well as local parks and Moore Park.

Monday night's presentation was the first detailed information given to residents and business owners. Many people expressed frustration about the lack of consultation the chosen the route.

I hope the Government listens to the local community, understands the anxiety about potential impacts, and works on ways to minimise them.

It is important that the Government, the Council and the community work together to get the best possible outcome.

This is what happened when the previous government proposed the Eastern Distributor 15 years ago, and we were able to secure important changes that had a positive impact on Surry Hills, Redfern and Moore Park.

The Eastern Distributor was routed below ground and heavily landscaped between Anzac Parade and Flinders Street to reduce noise and pollution. Pedestrian bridges connected Surry Hills and Redfern to Moore Park, which was transformed by permanently removing event parking and improving landscaping.

Bourke and Crown Street were transformed from one-way traffic corridors into slower, to two way streets which have helped Surry Hills develop its village atmosphere. The reduction in traffic has made creating the Bourke Street Cycleway, with its extra garden beds and trees, possible.

The original proposal would have cut an ugly swathe through the residential areas of Surry Hills and Redfern, and destroyed parts of Moore Park. What we achieved was a dramatically improved outcome compared to the original proposal Minister Carl Scully put to the community.

Minister Berejikilian nominated the location and number of stops, the design of stops, the method for crossing Moore Park, the impact on parking and local traffic and the hours of construction as things the community could help decide.

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