THE NSW Government last week said the Newcastle community can have its say on plans for light rail through the city centre to the beach, with the release of the Review of Environmental Factors report for public comment.
The REF report sets out the scope of the light rail project between Wickham and Pacific Park, potential impacts during construction, and a suite of mitigation and management measures. It also outlines potential options for the future expansion of the network.
The report also details changes to some road intersections, bus stops and parking in certain areas to accommodate light rail operations and ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the options being investigated could link the city centre to key destinations such as Broadmeadow's Hunter Stadium, the University of Newcastle, Glendale and the John Hunter Hospital.
"This is the first look at potential routes for an expanded light rail network to connect major activity centres and suburbs in Newcastle," he said.
In addition, the NSW Government is compiling a package of further road improvements for the city that would remove current pinch points and complement transport initiatives.
Parking loss on Hunter Street is also an issue raised in the planning document and Newcastle Coordinator General Anna Zycki said she will work closely with stakeholders on how this can best be addressed.
"We need to better understand what type of parking people want in the CBD, whether it be short term, long term, loading zones, disability parking, and where that parking is best located," said Ms Zycki.
Over coming months, a parking strategy will be prepared, in consultation with Newcastle City Council, businesses and other key stakeholders.
The REF report flags that further work will be done on strategies for urban amenity improvements to ensure the streetscape is attractive and accessible.
A submissions report will respond to all feedback before a final design is completed. Major construction is due to start early next year and services would start in 2019.
For future light rail, 10 options are outlined, including links to suburbs such as Mayfield, Merewether, Adamstown and a loop through the Hunter Street Mall.