Businesses struggle amid delay to Sydney's $2.1 billion light rail construction

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Sydney construction
A residential construction worker watches new apartments being built in Sydney's inner-city suburb of Zetland, June 24, 2015. Reuters/Jason Reed

For the second time, construction of the $2.1 billion light rail line along George Street failed to beat its completion deadlines. Retailers whose turnover has affected since the work started over 18 months ago expressed concerns that the interruption would continue for months.

Out of 10 zones on George Street, seven zones have failed to comply with the most recent completion dates, some by months. Orogold, a health and beauty shop, said that its earnings dropped by half over the past six months because customers were opting to avoid the area due to the construction, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Orogold co-owner John Leonardos told the news outlet that all neighbours were closing down and that they were losing money. He said he was told the construction in front of his store near Martin Place might be extended until Christmas. October was a best-case scenario.

Oakley store manager Bek Benitez blamed the disruption as a cause of decline in customers. As a manager of a store located in George Street, she described the situation as “absolutely frustrating,” arguing that the project was not thought out properly. According to Benitez, it was supposed to have taken a minimal amount of time.

Book Kitchen’s Amelia Birch said that thee disturbance brought by the construction had taken a significant emotional and financial toll. She estimated that she and her husband David lost over $100,000, adding they were unable to pay their rent so they’re living with family now.

Construction delay

According to the transport for New South Wales, at least 1,000 underground utility and service cables were found under the route of the line in the CBD. The discovery resulted to an investigation, design changes and "much negotiation with stakeholders about matters such as stormwater, gas, power and design stops.”

It added that civil construction would be done on the first of three zones on George Street starting in the middle of 2017. "We are on track for overall completion in early 2019 and have always been upfront in stating that we would need to adjust the schedules of individual zones," the transport for NSW reportedly said.

The transport authority said it was working to imply a strong message that Sydney is open for business along the route of the light rail. It extends from Circular Quay to Randwick and Kensington. Meanwhile, the $3.6 billion Western Sydney infrastructure plan is powering ahead, notes. For more news in Australia, watch the video below.

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