Subway plans force change to uni building

Jul 30, 2013
An impression of the new University of Adelaide medical school. The easement for a future subway is beneath the green entrance at the centre of the building.

An impression of the new University of Adelaide medical school. The easement for a future subway is beneath the green entrance at the centre of the building.

The University of Adelaide has been forced to modify the designs of its new medical school to incorporate a future North Terrace subway.

The State Government required the university to leave an area of land in the new west end development vacant to allow access to a future subway track.

Despite asking the university to change the shape of its building to accommodate the subway, the transport department says no modelling has been done on the potential multi-billion dollar proposal, nor are there any plans to fund the project.

The $130 million North Terrace medical school was announced earlier this year and will be built next to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor Warren Bebbington let the subway idea slip during an interview on the university’s radio station.

“If you look at the picture (of the new medical school) you’ll see there’s a kind of bite out of the building at one end,” he said.

“That relates to the fact underneath the site there is a future plan for an Adelaide subway, an underground railway, and if that were ever to be built they have to get access from above ground to sink pylons and things, so we’ve had to allow some air space at one corner of the building which accounts for the slightly unusual shape.”

Bebbington later told InDaily the land next to SAHMRI for the new medical school was given to the university by the State Government with an “easement” which required no development in the area earmarked for the subway.

The “bite” is clearly visible in renders of the medical school’s northern side. The render suggests the land would be covered by an elevated walkway, which presumably would not impede access.

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The easement on the North Terrace site appears to be the only part of the subway program that has been put in place.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure confirmed the university’s site was the only one with a subway easement, which was established in 2010.

No detailed study of the proposal has been done, nor has any funding been allocated to it.

“This provisioning is simply about long-term planning for Adelaide,” the spokesperson said.

“The easement has now been refined as part of the planning and building design for the proposed University of Adelaide medical school.

“While there has been a concept for an underground train link through Adelaide for many decades, the city’s population and transport demands are still not sufficient to warrant making this infrastructure a priority. Consequently no funding has been allocated to this proposal.”

RAA senior manager of automotive policy Mark Borlace applauded the government for having a long-term vision but said there were many better ways to spend the billions that would be needed for a subway.

“It would be a massive piece of infrastructure. And for such a relatively short couple of kilometres. It would be billions.

“There’s a lot better ways to spend that sort of money.

“More importantly, they’ve got to get the public transport system that’s above ground now working. That includes frequency and those sort of fundamentals that get people actually wanting to use public transport.”

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