Parramatta City Council is redesigning and rebuilding Parramatta Square, as per http://www.parracity.nsw.gov.au/your_council/news/Parramatta_Square.
Should they include underground station box in designs, or retrofit later?
Alan Kohler in Business Spectator 19/6/15 says quite a lot about the under-grounding question plus broader aspects of this matter.<br>EXCERPT from his article "Political dysfunction is taking its toll on our infrastructure":<br>"Australia’s lack of urban subway networks is arguably the nation’s biggest, most problematic, infrastructure failing.<br><br>Most of the transport challenges in Melbourne and Sydney have to do with compensating for the absence of adequate underground public transport, apart from a single loop in each city.<br><br>As the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said: “What made Manhattan Manhattan was the underground infrastructure, that engineering marvel.”<br>The same goes for London and Paris, not to mention Shanghai, Beijing, Budapest, Stockholm, Minsk etc. In fact it’s hard to think of a city of any size without a subway, except in Australia.<br><br>The reason, in history, is the sense that Australia’s wide-open spaces and cheap land meant there was no need to dig under the surface for transport. When other cities were tunnelling subways throughout the 20th century, driven by the high cost of land, Sydney and Melbourne were sticking to the surface.
They should not delay design of Square. If a station box is needed in the future, it should be tunnelled underneath even though more expensive.
The question is, how much more expensive to tunnel rather that “cut and cover” whilst Parramatta Square or the schools sites are open for construction.?Answer, probably quite a lot, but that’s only part of the story, as the under-grounding would create more useable, and developable, space which has immense commercial value – especially if taller buildings are allowed under the aviation regulations. Giving up the commercial value of air rights over railway land is a potentially sad waste of public monies.
Isn’t this a case for State Planning & Environment rather than Parramatta City Council. Surely, with the key concept for the future of Parramatta as a dual CBD (together with Sydney city, to form a central commercial core as long as Manhattan Is, by – say – 2050 or later) being recognised at State level, as witnessed by Premier Baird retaining his role as Minister for Western Sydney, then adequate provision should be made in the terms and conditions of approval for relevant sections of the Square such that the State is not incurring expenditure twice. Maybe a DCF analysis is needed to prove this, but on the strength of the potential future growth pf Parramatta as that 2nd CBD, I would have thought that the sheer scale of future economic and financial figures in terms of benefits would swamp the currently envisaged gains from development of the Square.
As a comparison, look at the sheer difficulties that have been caused over many decades by the short-sighted nature of not using full station capacity underground at Wynyard, and let’s not talk about the Town Hall area in terms of missed opportunities, though that may be partially solved in the next decade.