Newcastle traffic relief as Hunter Street prepares to reopen between Darby and Union streets

EDUCATION will begin for Newcastle drivers and pedestrians in the coming months on how to share the city with light rail, Revitalising Newcastle has revealed as a major chunk of the city to reopen this month.  

Hunter Street will reopen between Union and Darby streets by August, Revitalising Newcastle has confirmed, with carriages expected to start running empty along the light rail route in just months for testing. 

Program director Michael Cassel said July would deliver several milestones for the intensive construction period including having track base in place for the entire light rail route, Worth Place open permanently and more than 100 parking spaces reinstated. 

“We’ve built more than half the track and are completing more by the day,” Mr Cassel said. “We’re expecting to have all our below ground works done by the end of the month, and we’re returning more parking spaces in the city, which will be welcomed by residents and businesses.

“There are more than 50 businesses plus educational and cultural facilities along the stretch of Hunter Street between Union and Darby, and I’m pleased to give the assurance that within just a few weeks we’ll be finished in their area.”

The reopening comes less than two weeks after Newcastle Now vowed to forge ahead with financial relief for traders hindered by ongoing construction. Newcastle City Council has also offered a rebate on a special rate levied on inner city property owners that funds Newcastle Now. 

The first light rail vehicles are expected to arrive in the next few months as construction winds down, marking the first time in 68 years trams have run on city streets. 

Mr Cassel said testing and commissioning of light rail carriages would require some road closures towards the end of the year, signalling increased education around the new road arrangements the transport mode will require. 

“It’s important that over the next few months we build awareness of tram safety and how getting around the city centre will change,” he said.

“As we get closer to running services it may be frustrating for people to see trams running through the city and not being able to jump on board, however it’s important we get everything right prior to opening to the public.”

The Geographical Names Board has also put titles for the six light rail stops out for public exhibition.

The recommended names are Newcastle Interchange, Queens Wharf, Civic, Crown Street, Honeysuckle, and Newcastle Beach. 

Alternatives include Pacific Park, Coal Bridge, Fish Belly Rail and Kuwumi.