VISION: Artist's impressions of a trambus going over Alexandra Headland.
VISION: Artist's impressions of a trambus going over Alexandra Headland.

Push to secure mass transport solve ramps up

A PUSH for a mass transit system will be made with renewed vigour in 2020, as a detailed business case is developed in a bid to secure state and federal funding.

A strategic business case already undertaken by Sunshine Coast Council established the economic, environmental and social benefits that could be attained through a mass transit system “supported by urban consolidation”.

It was envisaged that a mass transit system, which easily connected people to employments nodes could attract new industries, enhance employment opportunities and stimulate regional prosperity.

In May, the State Government confirmed it would match up to $7.5 million in investment in a detailed business case with council, including costings for light rail, which was currently the council’s preferred option.

In July, a submission of the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Strategic Business Case to the State Government was endorsed by the council, marking the completion of the first-stage of the government-established review framework through, which state and federal funding for the project could be accessed.

In a 2013 study, the Sunshine Coast Light Rail Project Route Planning and Impact Assessment Report, it was found there was about 2400ha of “developable land” in the 4900ha study area corridor.

“Significant areas of under developed land exist at Kawana, Bokarina and Maroochydore,” the report found.

“These areas are largely already identified for future development.

“Clusters of lower constraint sites are evident along Aerodrome Road, some areas of Brisbane Road and Nicklin Way.”

MOVE: The trambus imagined on Nicklin Way.
MOVE: The trambus imagined on Nicklin Way.

That report found there were opportunities to rethink “traditional approached and reorientate infill onto the cross streets, rather than the main corridor”.

It was noted that approach could “avoid the emergence of a single, unbroken ‘strip’ of infill development along the light rail alignment and at certain locations, support coastal transit villages with a range of shops and community facilities”.

Aerodrome Rd in Maroochydore and Nicklin Way were identified as key arterial roads which could be reimagined, driven by a mass transit system, likely light rail, operating on a corridor along those routes.

The 2013 report found that “the passenger capacity of light rail can relieve the pressure of growing congestion and eliminate the need for progressive future road widening”.

Multiple route options were identified to service Caloundra, Kawana, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore.

The preferred route serviced Caloundra, large swathes of Nicklin Way, as well as the Kawana Health Precinct, along Brisbane Rd and Walan St at Mooloolaba, before running along Alexandra Pde and Aerodrome Rd into the new Maroochydore CBD.

The recent strategic business case identified the Maroochydore to Kawana stretch as priority area one of a mass transit system.

The second highest priority was the CAMCOS South corridor, which would support a North Coast Line connection and also service future Beerwah East and Caloundra South communities.

Mass transit from Kawana to Caloundra was third-highest priority, while CAMCOS North was priority four and a future airport connection was the region’s fifth-highest priority for a mass transit system.

It was understood the current business case process was still exploring multiple options for the system, including light rail as well as a dedicated bus or trambus system.

Timelines on the council’s website indicated a possible construction start of 2023.