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CONSTRUCTION workers chipping away at Sydney’s problem-plagued light rail project were forced to stop digging yesterday after they stumbled upon human remains just outside Central Station.
NSW Police were immediately called to the Chalmers St discovery however the appearance and depth of the bones led officers to believe the bones were from an old Sydney cemetery.
The area near Central Station was once the site of the Devonshire St cemetery, consecrated in 1820.
Many of Sydney’s early settlers were buried at the site but by 1901, plans to build Central Station in the same area led to the cemetery being closed.
Before the cemetery was closed, it was commonplace for families who were unable to afford a plot in the Devonshire St cemetery to instead bury their loved ones on the outskirts of the site.
While the human remains aren’t being treated as suspicious, construction on the Chalmers St section has been temporarily suspended until archaeologists inspect the site.
A spokeswoman for the consortium of Alstom, Acciona, Transdev and Capella Capital (ALTRAC), told news.com.au the bones were “respectfully removed by heritage experts and analysis by a forensic anthropologist [at] the University of Sydney confirmed the bones to be human”.
The spokeswoman said work had only stopped on one pit on Chalmers St and work across the alignment has continued, with construction to be “substantially completed” by the end of the year.
“Works are temporarily suspended in that area until investigations have been completed. They will resume once relevant approvals have been obtained,” the ALTRAC spokeswoman said.
The discovery is yet another setback to the $1.8 billion light rail project, which has been plagued by problems including construction running months behind schedule and contractors taking legal action against the State Government.
The project was supposed to be finished by March 2019 but numerous delays have pushed the project forward more than a year with construction to be completed by May 2020.
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who has always been opposed to the light rail extension, has labelled the project a “catastrophic failure” on numerous occasions.
In April, City of Sydney councillor Angela Vithoulkas told news.com.au the light rail construction had become a “horror story”.
“They’re already two years behind schedule in my (area) and when people ask me when it will be finished I have one reply: ‘never’,” she said.
“The infrastructure was supposed to have been finished in March to give them a year to do testing and they keep saying it will be delivered on time but I find it difficult to believe,” Ms Vithoulkas said.
Spanish construction company Acciona, which is part of the beleaguered project, is also suing the state government for $1.1 billion.
And in July, the NSW government found itself in hot water again after it was exposed for spending more than $300,000 on photographs to show it off.
The $321,000 timelapse photography project ran for two years and ensured there were cameras put in at least 20 light rail construction zones.
NSW Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi slammed the project as yet another example of the state government being out-of-touch with Sydneysiders.
“No camera trickery is going to hide the fact that this light rail is running at least a year behind schedule and vastly over budget,” she said.
“Splashing cash and wasting public money to try and make it seem like this project is close to the finish line is deceptive.
“The community and businesses facing closed roads and construction are just sick and tired of this government’s behaviour.”
The bones were found on Chalmers St, running adjacent to Central Station. Picture: NearmapSource:Supplied
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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