EASY DOES IT: A section of portable office space being lowered into place as light rail managing contractor Downer Group assembles its main construction site office on the rail corridor opposite Darby Street. Picture: Simone de Peak.NEWCASTLE light rail managing contractor Downer is starting to have a visible presence in the city, with its main site office being set up on the old rail corridor opposite Darby Street.
The portable office was being assembled on Monday, with semi-trailers bringing the structure in sections.
The sections were then lifted by crane onto their foundations, to form an open-plan office that will soon be home to workforce of about 60 Downer and Transport for NSW personnel.
Revitalising Newcastle project director Michael Cassel was at the site on Monday afternoon, describing it as “the nerve centre for light rail construction management”.
The site in question includes an old railway car park off Hunter Street, and also includes a pedestrian crossing across the former rail corridor from Hunter Street to Argyle Street.
“The office site will have its ownsmall access road off Argyle Street to avoid any impact on traffic in the area,” Mr Cassel said. “It will have parking spaces set aside so construction workers do not take up existing parking spaces in the area. It is also next to an established parking station.”
Mr Cassel said people may have seen minor works under way at the site in preparation for the portable site office being trucked in and assembled.
“Pedestrian access will remain open at all times, with the pedestrian crossing over the former heavy rail corridor at Argyle Street being moved slightly to the east,” Mr Cassel said.
Under the construction method being used by the NSW government, Downer is the managing contractor, with other companiesbidding for various packages of work. The contract to operate the light rail (along with Newcastle Buses and the Stockton ferry) was won by Keolis Downer – a joint venture between Downer and French transport company Keolis.
On a tour of the site on Monday, Mr Cassel said that while the light rail route was finalised, the actual design was about 70 per cent complete. Some of the final design work depended on the final placement of underground services.
Mr Casselsaid some of the early construction was likely to be at the Wickham end of the track, to accommodate the light rail cars that would start arriving in about mid-2018.
The construction workforce would vary but would peak at about 200 people.
Mr Cassel said the site office would be a hive of activity and workers based at the site would help support local businesses during the construction period.
“This marks another step forward for this flagship project as we move closer to major construction, which will start in about the middle of the year,” Mr Cassel said.