Next stop Norwood: SA Labor pledges $279m to further extend tramline
While Adelaide's trams may not be able to turn right onto North Terrace, SA Labor is hoping they can bring about a turn to the left in the marginal seat of Liberal leader Steven Marshall.
Premier Jay Weatherill has unveiled details of his party's planned extension of the tram network through Kent Town to Norwood, with the route taking the trams from East Terrace in Adelaide's CBD up Rundle Road and then onto The Parade.
The $279 million EastLink project would see the installation of three kilometres of new track and five new stops, ending at Norwood Place near George Street.
The investment is part of a $2 billion infrastructure plan Labor is touting, which also includes the removal of seven level crossings and the creation of a deep-water port on Eyre Peninsula.
"Expanding our tram network will attract investment, boost economic growth, encourage urban renewal and jobs, and better connect the eastern suburbs with the CBD," Mr Weatherill said.
The Government said it would also purchase four new trams to help service the expanded network, with trams to run every 10 minutes along the new route.
"This will provide a fast, convenient way from Norwood into the city and back again," Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said.
Construction on the project would begin in the 2018–19 financial year, Mr Mullighan said, and would take approximately two years.
"We would estimate in about two-and-a-half years this will be completed," he said.
The project would also support about 145 jobs during each year of construction, the Government said.
'I've heard that before', Liberal leader scoffs
The political significance of the move should not be overlooked — Norwood is part of the seat of Dunstan, held by Mr Marshall by a margin of just 3.7 per cent.
After Jo Chapley secured a 1.7 per cent swing against the Liberal leader in 2014, Labor has nominated former federal candidate Matt Loader to challenge Mr Marshall this time round.
Mr Marshall said he had no intention of matching Labor's tram announcement, and suggested it was a baseless promise.
"I've heard that before, in fact I think I've heard it three or four times," he said
"They're not going to ever deliver it."
The tramline project would cause significant roadworks and disruptions, but the Government said a $5 million compensation fund would provide assistance to local traders.
"[We] have identified ways of maintaining the trees, which are really important for the residents and traders around Norwood, but also maintaining traffic flow," Mr Mullighan said.
"We've got to choose between how many lanes of traffic we have and how much parking we have.
"[One] of the solutions might be, for example, that we have two lanes of traffic in each direction but no parking in the morning and afternoon peak."
Mr Weatherill conceded it was no coincidence the announcement was made within metres of Mr Marshall's office.
"If it unseats Steven Marshall in the process, then that's a happy side benefit," Mr Weatherill said. "He opposes trams, we support them."
But Mr Marshall said he was confident of being returned.
The extension into the eastern suburbs was announced as part of a broader network plan in 2015, but no funding was set aside at the time.
In 2016, the Government budgeted $50 million to lay new tracks and take the line to East Terrace.
Those works are still ongoing, and forced the closure of one of the city's busiest intersections for a fortnight in January.
The Government also opted not to install a right-hand turn at the King William Street intersection because of the high cost of doing so — a decision that has attracted popular ridicule.
Mr Weatherill said there would be more announcements from Labor about trams during the campaign.
Trams formerly operated along The Parade before the tracks were ripped up about 60 years ago.