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Tram extension study discussed

22 August 2007

Possibilities for introducing an extension to the existing tram route incorporating an area through the City Mall were presented to the Christchurch City Council at a seminar today.

Public consultation last year showed considerable support for running the city’s tram attraction through the Mall. A tram extension study prepared by consultants Maunsell Ltd looked at the feasibility of this option and today’s resulting seminar suggested that it was feasible and could have wider benefits.

Staff have been asked to bring a preferred route and costings back to Council on 20 September, Council Strategy and Planning Group Principal Adviser Dave Hinman says. Council at that time will decide whether it supports the proposal. Public consultation would still need to be carried out about any extended tram route.

Early indications were that the existing concrete base and tram tracks still in situ in High Street might be reusable, but it has now been determined that the concrete needs to be replaced. The tram rails may still be reusable.

Because of the Project City Mall work now underway in High Street, it was desirable to consider future-proofing the concrete base of the mall so that the options for a future tram extension remained.

"Doing anything retrospectively would be more expensive compared to the marginal cost of doing it now. There would be limited future disruption to the street, if the decision was made further down the track, to proceed with the tram extension," Mr Hinman says.

The study showed that with the extended line, visitor numbers could grow up to 4% per annum and visitor spend could grow by $350,000 per annum.

The new area served by the tram would benefit from the image and publicity, with up to 150,000 extra visitors to the new area per annum.

The consultants’ favoured option for the extension was to leave the existing line at Oxford Tce, travel past the "Strip" and then into Cashel St as far as High St, turning at "Hack Circle" into High St and then proceeding back to Colombo St and through the Square, joining the existing line behind the Cathedral.

The alternative favoured by Council staff and supported by Councillors was similar but would extend the line coming along the City Mall on Cashel St with a right turn down High to Manchester St, turn left into Cashel and then right into High Street. The possibility of the line crossing itself at the High, Cashel corner was also raised, as this would give straight runs down both Cashel and High Streets, and staff were asked to consider this.

Preliminary costings indicated that the extension might cost between $4.6 and $5.6million, depending on which route option was selected.


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