A decision to transform the Paterson Street Central car park into a bus interchange will save ratepayers money in the long run, City of Launceston council chief executive Michael Stretton believes.
Mr Stretton said council calculated it would cost about $5 million to $7 million to move the existing major bus stop on St John Street to other on-street locations in the central business district.
"My expectation is that we'll be able to deliver it [a new bus interchange on Paterson Street] in concert with the state government for less than what it would have been to have an on-street solution," he said.
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After 18 months of extensive research and planning, the council recently purchased a share of the Paterson Street Central car park and the old Birchalls building near it for a combined total cost of $14.4 million.
The council plans to turn the Birchalls building into an arcade that will house a mix of retail and food businesses. The arcade will double as a thoroughfare which connects the bus interchange and a mooted creative precinct to the Brisbane Street Mall.
The council assessed the suitability of 13 potential locations to move the existing bus stop to before it decided to purchase the car park and build the interchange, Mr Stretton said.
"That assessment looked at things like the roadway cross-section, the required operating space, accessibility, the impacts on the bus routing, the impacts on the dead running services and the circulation for the bus networks and impacts on the network operation, other operators, parking and road safety," he explained.
The list of potential locations was narrowed down to three sites on Patterson Street, Mr Stretton said.
"One was on the street in front of the government offices, one was on the street in front of the church and childcare centre and the other was an actual off-street solution using the Dechaineux Way and the Paterson Street Central car park," he said.
"Each of the two on-street options required a lot of modification and design, we costed it at about $5 million to $7 million for either of those spaces. Upon assessment, those sites had too many issues and impacts on the properties that would be immediately behind them."
Mr Stretton said the council would now work with the state government to design the interchange. Construction could commence next year.