Gold Coast lobby says light rail will be worth the building pain

THE END PRODUCT: The Gold Coast's G:link soon after it started operating in 2014. Picture: Glenn Hunt.

THE END PRODUCT: The Gold Coast's G:link soon after it started operating in 2014. Picture: Glenn Hunt.

THE Gold Coast’s light rail construction period was “horrendous” and “terribly difficult” but the results were “fabulous”, says one of the tourist strip’s business representatives.

Laura Younger, deputy president of the Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce, said on Friday that the four-year build from 2010 to 2014 was “horrendous, no matter how you couch it”.

About two years of the construction program was “going through the middle of a shopping precinct and no matter how hard they tried, it was terrible”.

The Newcastle Herald contacted the Gold Coast chamber in light of revelations that NSW government figures have begun briefing Newcastle business groups on the likely disruptions to Hunter Street and Scott Street from later this year, when building begins.

While no formal timetable has been released, construction could take until 2019, when the system is scheduled to start operating.

In 2014, the Gold Coast chamber said that 13 per cent of local businesses along the light rail line had closed as a result of construction. On Friday, Ms Younger said “people trudged through it, it wasn’t a great time”.

“The communication to the community could have been better, not only from the light rail contractors, but from the utility companies, from Telstra and the others, who also had all of their works going on at the same time,” Ms Younger said.

“Shopkeepers would find the footpath pulled up in front of their shop with no notice whatsoever.”

The Gold Coast light rail, known as G:link, began operating in July 2014.

“We love it, it’s the ants’ pants, it’s been fabulous,” Ms Younger said. “They are now building stage two to connect to the heavy rail, which will be terrific, and they are already talking about stage three.”

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce deputy president Laura Younger.

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce deputy president Laura Younger.

Property Council of Australia Hunter director Andrew Fletcher said Transport for NSW was “deploying massive resources to minimise disruption to city-life and keep the community on-side” during the Sydney CBD light rail construction.

“Any infrastructure project in a city centre will cause some disruption and inconvenience and perhaps even some political fall-out,” Mr Fletcher said.

He said the Sydney job was going around the clock, with on-the-street guides as well as real-time digital information about road closures and the like “to keep the community engaged and the city flowing”.

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