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THE state government has confirmed that five temporary pedestrian crossings over the now-vacant Newcastle rail line will be opened much sooner than expected, and long before the March 28 state election.
Though ongoing court action has prevented the physical removal of the rail lines, work on the temporary crossings has continued over the old lines with bitumen paths soon to connect Hunter Street with the harbourfront.
In recent days, new turf has been laid around some of the crossings, suggesting the temporary work has been finished and the crossings may open within days.
State Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said no opening date had been set, but it would be earlier than first thought.
“Work is progressing well to open up the CBD to the foreshore,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘‘Teams on the ground have been working hard and I am confident we will be able to give the community access [to the crossings] sooner.’’
She said detailed designs for the Wickham transport interchange were now well under way, while early works such as site establishment and investigations would begin soon.‘‘These were always intended to be the next steps for the revitalisation project,’’ she said.
The announcement has coincided with Planning Minister Pru Goward stepping up the government’s post-Christmas sales pitch, hitting back at critics and saying Newcastle had been ‘‘fatigued by endless procrastination’’.
In a strongly worded opinion piece in the Newcastle Herald, the minister says the government remains committed to the city’s urban renewal, which has been ‘‘stymied either by indecision or vested interests intent on maintaining the status quo’’.
‘‘The message I get from Novocastrians I speak to is: ‘Just get on with it’,’’ she said.
‘‘Well now we are.
‘‘We can argue until the cows come home about the minutiae, and also about the merits. But let’s face it, that debate has raged for over a decade and resulted in very little.’’
She said recent times had been ‘‘difficult’’ but the urban renewal plan would go ahead.
‘‘It’s the right thing to do for all those people who have been crying out for progress, crying out for investment, crying out for a future for their children in such a proud city,’’ she said.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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