October 5, 2020
Date: 5 October 2020
Author: Matt O’Sullivan
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
The historic Glebe Island Bridge is in urgent need of repairs to stop it deteriorating further and to ensure it can one day be returned to its former glory and used as a key inner-harbour connection for pedestrians and cyclists, the City of Sydney says.
The council and the Committee for Sydney are also urging the NSW government to investigate removing motorway ramps from the Western Distributor, which runs over Darling Harbour. The City of Sydney says the motorway divides Pyrmont in half, “scarring” the inner-city suburb.
The calls come several months after the government released draft plans to reshape the fast-growing Pyrmont area over the next two decades. Under the proposed changes, high-rise buildings up to 180 metres would be permitted.
With improved transport deemed key, the City of Sydney says restoring the Glebe Island Bridge should be a priority for the government, arguing it will be crucial for cycling, pedestrian and potentially public transport links between Pyrmont and the so-called Bays precinct at Rozelle.
“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”.
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.
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.
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.