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SYDNEY Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s giant $3.5 million city centre cloud arch sculpture could be in jeopardy after engineers missed the chance to dig the footings.
The much-lampooned, wibbly-wobbly steel-plated structure was supposed to tower 75 metres into the air and straddle the light rail above Town Hall station on George Street.
But The Daily Telegraph understands council engineers were not allowed on to the light rail site to dig the structure’s deep foundations because the delays to the transport system’s construction would have run up enormous costs. “That opportunity to dig the footings for the arch has been lost because the concrete for the light rail has already been poured,” a source said.
Now council and light rail engineers are locked in talks on ways that the footings can be put in retrospectively, including one option of tunnelling under the new concrete and drilling up.
It is not clear how much that will add to the final cost of the Cloud Arch.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore stands next to a scale model of Cloud Arch. Picture: David MoirA City of Sydney spokeswoman confirmed council engineers were still trying to get access to the site.
“The City has been in negotiations with Transport for NSW to gain access to the light rail works compound to install the northern footing for the artwork,” she said.
“Negotiations on the construction are ongoing and work cannot commence without TfNSW approval.”
She confirmed that originally “construction of the footings required for Cloud Arch was timed to align with the light rail works in this area.”
The Cloud Arch sculpture by Tokyo artist Junya Ishigami was unveiled by Ms Moore in 2014 as the highlight of three giant public artworks costing $9 million. It was condemned by Liberal councillor Christine Forster as “a white elephant”.
More than $300,000 has already been spent on the sculpture, including detailed investigation of the tunnels underneath where the arch will be built. As a result the development application for the footings was filed five months late.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Picture: Mark EvansThe Council spokeswoman said: “Development consent has already been obtained for this footing.”
She played down the problems, saying that the footings could still be put in after the tracks were laid. “The design allows for the footings to be installed following construction of light rail in that section without removal of light rail infrastructure,” she said.
The blocked access to the light rail site is the latest stoush in the increasingly fraught relationship between the builders and Ms Moore, who has complained about the lack of trees and size of shelters on the rail route.
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman confirmed that the timing for digging the footings of the giant sculpture had been an issue but that the footings could be put in retrospectively. “We have identified an opportunity to facilitate the construction of footings for the Cloud Arch around the rail corridor before the light rail is completed by early 2019 and the City of Sydney have supported this approach,” she said.
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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