PARRAMATTA Lord Mayor, Councillor Lorraine Wearne, last week announced that a feasibility study into the Western Sydney Light Rail Network will commence early next month, after Parramatta City Council committed to fund the first stage of the proposal.
Speaking at the Parramatta Economic Development Forum at the Sydney Opera House, Cr Wearne said that although transport issues were usually the responsibility of the State and Federal Governments, Council decided it had to take a lead role for the region.
Cr Wearne said that while there is plenty of discussion about transport matters, such as congestion and lack of efficiency and services, there is not enough action, adding that the Council wants to change this.
Cr Wearne said the Western Sydney Light Rail Network is a project that Council feels will go a long way towards relieving congestion, providing strong regional connections across Western Sydney and integrating existing transport infrastructure such as heavy rail.
The Council has committed up to $1 million towards a number of initiatives to realise the light rail project including a feasibility study, with the successful tender expected to be selected in July.
Cr Wearne said the light rail proposal had already received widespread support from Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Transport for NSW, Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, Infrastructure NSW, City of Sydney, The University of Western Sydney and neighbouring councils.
The proposed Western Sydney Light Rail Network is planned to be segregated from the existing road and train networks, with virtually no sharing of road space and aims to improve access to employment in Westmead, Parramatta city centre, Macquarie Park and have links to the University of Western Sydney and Macquarie University.
"We've made a commitment to get this proposal up and running, and we'll be calling on our Federal and State leaders to also get behind it and help provide solutions and the funds that will support the future growth of our City and our region," Cr Wearne said.
It is estimated that Stage One of the light rail project, totalling 44 kilometres and comprising the Carlingford line; Macquarie Park line and West Central line, will cost $3 billion. The remainder of the network (105 kilometres) is estimated at $6.5 billion.
Cr Wearne also announced a new development for the Parramatta CBD, which includes construction of the highest residential tower in Parramatta and 25,000 square metres of commercial space.
According to the Councillor, stage one of the project will include a commercial development on the corner of Smith and Macquarie Streets, to be of similar size to the newly constructed Eclipse building.
Stage two, on the corner of Darcy and Church Streets, could accommodate residential and hospitality uses and once complete, is expected to be the tallest building in the City.
"One of the great benefits of packaging the project this way, is that because they have different uses, both stages could be developed simultaneously," Cr Wearne said.
Parramatta City Council will conduct a Design Competition for the two stages and then submit a development application, based on the winning designs, which are expected to be announced in July 2012.
"This project will build even more trust in the Parramatta office market and we'll also be preparing a re-branding strategy for the development, which will be submitted with our DA, within the next couple of months," Cr Wearne said.