NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance, Minister for Roads Duncan Gay and CBD Coordinator General Marg Prendergast said today was an exciting milestone for Sydney, but urged all who use the CBD to prepare for possible congestion and travel delays as the transport network adjusted to losing its main north-south connection.
“It’s been more than 65 years since the trams on George Street were replaced by buses and tonight marks a historic movement towards the future of transport in the Sydney CBD as we make way for Sydney Light Rail major construction,” Mr Constance said.
“Light rail will change how we travel through the city and all road users need to be prepared to accommodate major construction work.”
A new bus timetable with major route changes was successfully introduced on 4 October to ease congestion during construction, but its greatest test will come during the Monday peak when other vehicles have to re-route away from George Street.
“Monday will be a big test for both the road network and the bus network,” Mr Gay said.
“The bus route changes have gone well so far, but closing George Street is the big challenge and the Monday peak hour will be the real test.
“We need motorists to re-time their journey away from the peak, or ideally swap the car for public transport. If people need to drive, use the new preferred routes on the CBD edge – don’t drive down George Street to the closure point.”
“George Street will change from tonight, but we will continue to monitor and adjust arrangements throughout the CBD as we go through this difficult period of change,” Ms Prendergast said.
“Those who must drive to the CBD need to seriously consider arriving and departing before or after the peak and they need to devise new plans that involve using the likes of College Street, Eddy Avenue, the Western Distributor, Cahill Expressway and the Cross City Tunnel.
“Everyone who uses the CBD has a part to play, if we all do our bit we can keep traffic moving, keep business thriving and ensure disruption is minimised during the construction period.”
Alternative route maps for drivers can be found on the My Sydney website: mysydney.nsw.gov.au/useful_maps
George Street will close to motorists from Market Street to Park Street on 3 December 2015.
Construction on the 12-kilometre light rail route from Circular Quay to Randwick and Kingsford is expected to be completed by 2018, with the first services carrying passengers in early 2019.