Push to restore Glebe Island Bridge and reduce motorway ‘scarring’ on inner Sydney
“It will become a vital link in the realisation of the harbour promenade, connecting the peninsula and harbour CBD upriver to the west,” the council said in a submission. “[The bridge] should be immediately … restored before it is allowed by [Transport for NSW] to deteriorate anymore.”
Transport for NSW said the condition and future potential of the bridge was under investigation as part of planning for the renewal of the Bays precinct, adding that it was working closely with other agencies to ensure the best community outcomes for the area.
The swing bridge, which is a pair with the landmark Pyrmont Bridge over Darling Harbour, was closed to traffic when the Anzac Bridge opened in 1995. The government raised the possibility five years ago of eventually re-opening the bridge as a tram line to the Bays precinct.
The City of Sydney has also urged Transport for NSW and the Department of Planning to investigate reducing or eliminating ramps and roadways from the Western Distributor, and pursuing a “more holistic study which considers the feasibility of undergrounding of the route as far as possible”.
A transport study released by the government in July as part of the plans for the inner-city suburb did raise the possibility of removing a road ramp between the Western Distributor and Pyrmont Street.
The Committee for Sydney said removing the motorway in stages, in tandem with investments in public transport, would transform Pyrmont and the area around it.
“We are not naive about the scale of this undertaking, but we believe it would make eminent sense for government to understand what the options are,” the advocacy group said.
The Department of Planning said the draft strategy for Pyrmont acknowledged the Western Distributor’s limitations and proposed a number of solutions, including making better use of the land beneath the motorway.
“[It] also identified a number pathway and cycleway connections that could be provided over time to try to better connect the areas either side of the Western Distributor,” the department said.
Like the Cahill Expressway at Circular Quay, the Western Distributor is widely regarded as an eyesore in the central city. The latter was built in stages from the 1970s, and its final extension was to the Anzac Bridge, which was completed in 2000.
However, the state’s transport agency has not canvassed the removal of the Western Distributor in any studies – or estimated the cost of doing so – because it is expected to remain a critical part of the city’s road network.
As part of the plans to effectively make Pyrmont an extension of the Sydney CBD, the government has given strong indications in recent months that it will build a railway station in the suburb as part of its $20 billion-plus metro rail project between the central city and Westmead, near Parramatta.
Infrastructure NSW, a government agency, said in a submission to the draft plans that a metro station at Pyrmont would be a “great and complementary addition” to transport options within the central-city peninsula.
The City of Sydney said its “qualified support” for the plans for Pyrmont was predicated on a train station being built there, arguing it was needed to accommodate population growth.
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Matt O’Sullivan is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.