Sunshine Coast Council today released the proposed light rail network route options for community comment.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said improving the liveability and prosperity of the region was at the heart of the proposed light rail corridor between Maroochydore and Caloundra.
“Seeking the community’s views on the route options through Caloundra, Kawana, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore is the next step in this important project for the future of the Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Today, we are inviting the community to come on board, to get involved in the conversation around light rail and to tell council what they think about the proposed route options.
“The community engagement follows the recent release of the “Sunshine Coast Light Rail – Shaping Our Future” document which outlined the findings from a study into the potential for light rail to be part of a long-term transport solution between Sunshine Coast’s major growth centres.
“Light rail is recognised as a mode of transport that has many benefits beyond its role as a transport service and is currently operating or being planned and built in hundreds of cities around the world, including in Australia.
”While we are clearly talking about a network that is some years away, planning for the future has to start now.
“Our population is forecast to grow by 50 per cent in the next 15 to 20 years and we need to be thinking ahead about how we are going to respond to that growth and maintain the lifestyle that is an integral part of the Sunshine Coast.
“If we want to ensure the region is well positioned to reduce traffic and congestion and minimise the need for more parking areas and wider roads, then we need to make sure that the right transport solutions are considered and delivered, when and where they are needed.
Mayor Jamieson said identifying a potential corridor – and then taking the necessary steps to protect it for this future use – would help shape how and when the solution was delivered and would prove cost effective in the long term.
“While providing transport infrastructure such as light rail would be the Queensland Government’s responsibility, if we want to see it considered as part of a longer-term solution, we need to get the planning and analysis right to inform any decision the State may make.
“The economic prosperity of our region will be greater if we can create more opportunities for vibrant activity along the main spine of the enterprise corridor from the airport to Caloundra South.
“Over time, with light rail forming the spine, supported by a frequent and reliable bus system to connect other communities and the Hinterland, we could create a world-class integrated local transport system, particularly if it is connected to the North Coast rail line.
“This approach would boost opportunities for new investment which would lead to greater employment options, and also encourage more integrated tourism experiences between the coastal strip and the Hinterland.”
Regional Planning Portfolio Councillor Christian Dickson, said council had a dual focus – serving and responding to the community’s immediate priorities and keeping an eye on the future.
“Transport is one area where forward planning is an absolute necessity if council wants to ensure a vibrant and prosperous community on the Sunshine Coast well into the future,” Cr Dickson said.
“Large infrastructure projects have notoriously long lead times due to the time demands of detailed engineering, approval processes, funding arrangements, community consultation and construction.
“We have the opportunity now to ensure a suitable corridor is preserved, so the project can be readily brought to life at the appropriate time in the future.”
Mayor Jamieson said the route options were selected following engineering and environmental assessments which considered community accessibility, current travel patterns, location of tourism centres, constructability and position in relation to major facilities and service centres such as the Maroochydore city centre and the Kawana Health Campus.
“Three route options have been proposed for the Maroochydore area, four options for Mooloolaba and Kawana and three options for Caloundra”.
“The routes also include connections between these areas”, Mayor Jamieson said.
“Council is holding community information sessions over the next four weeks and the community is invited to participate and take the opportunity to comment on the proposed routes.
“Our aim is to identify a preferred route and then progress more detailed feasibility studies to look at engineering, costs and timing.
“This will enable council to present a clear case to the Queensland Government on whether light rail is right and feasible for the Sunshine Coast.”
Subject to feasibility and confirmation of funding commitments from other levels of government, construction of a light rail network could start in 2022 with Stage 1, between Maroochydore and Kawana, operational by 2025.