Work is proceeding at considerable pace preparing the way for construction of the Gungahlin Terminus for the first stage of the Canberra's Light Rail.
On Monday 16 October, removal of the hoarding around the construction site on Hibberson Street will commence. Over the course of the week, temporary fencing will be erected as activities continue in preparation for track laying and landscaping. We are grateful for the continued patience of residents and businesses during these significant activities.
Hibberson Street is being transformed from a busy two-way shopping strip into a car-free light rail precinct. But that transformation requires a lot of planning, coordination and problem-solving, as Project Engineer, Sophie Thompson, has discovered.
"The first thing was to establish what services run through the area, and where they run," she explained. "Even though Gungahlin is relatively new in terms of Canberra suburbs it wasn't as easy as just contacting the service providers – gas, water, power, communications, whatever – and getting a look at their maps.
"Maps are good, but nothing beats a pair of eyes! Our crews have been able to identify where pipes might be simply by taking a good look at the bare ground. We also undertook a lot of detailed survey work. Even then, there have been a couple of occasions when we've been approached by tradesmen who worked on the original developments and they told us where to look."
One of the main activities involved the removal of water and stormwater pipes away from the centre of the road to allow the light rail easement to be built. Some of that work required new pipes to be put into trenches dug up to six metres below ground. Communication cabling also had to be re-located.
"The job involves a lot of problem-solving as we go along," said Sophie. "But that makes the job interesting. Sometimes there are surprises – like when we opened up what looked like a normal manhole cover near the Gozzard Street intersection and found a six-metre deep trench!"
The hoardings went up in June and they will be replaced this month with a lighter security fence. It has meant considerable disruption for traders along the busy street, but Communications Coordinator Sally Coyle, says the locals have in the main embraced the process with good nature.
"The work has meant we've had to take almost the full width of the street and obviously restrict pedestrian access," she said. "Bus routes have had to change and everyone has had to get used to the disruption.
"But the traders have been very responsive to our approaches. In fact, the reason we have such bright and detailed signage is a suggestion from the traders. We go to great lengths to keep them informed about the work and what they can expect.
"I think everyone is looking forward to the new streetscape when the hoardings come down. Then the excitement will begin as we start to see the community interaction with the new space," she said.