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City Road gets the go ahead

12 Jul 2016

City Road gets the go ahead Image

The renewed vision for Southbank’s central spine took a major step forward last month as City of Melbourne councillors unanimously endorsed the final City Road master plan.

Following an extensive community consultation process, which occurred during September and October last year, the final master plan was brought before councillors at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on June 21.

While there were only some subtle updates to the original draft vision that went before council last September, the one significant change related to plans to reconfigure Alexandra Ave as a boulevard.

Planning officers recommended that the best way to approach this part of the project was to incorporate such plans as part of the Domain Park master plan.

The City Rd plan will instead focus its attention on connecting Alexandra and Queen Victoria Gardens by establishing a new pedestrian crossing about half way between the St Kilda Rd overpass and Linlithgow Ave.  

However, construction of the new crossing won’t occur until mid-2017, while the rest of the project’s construction works won’t start until 2018, with no money having been provided in the City of Melbourne’s 2016-17 budget.  

The project, which is estimated to cost more than $40 million, is expected to be completed in 2023.

The plan’s approach imagines the arterial in two distinct sections of City Rd West (between Clarendon and Power streets) and City Rd East (between Power St and the St Kilda Rd overpass).

Developed in partnership with VicRoads, the master plan has been devised with the intention of improving accessibility and safety for pedestrians and cyclists by slowing traffic and transforming City Rd West into a main street.

Key features of the plan still include new crossings at Clarke and Balston Streets, 9000sqm of new community open space at the Kings Way undercroft, slip lane removals at Southbank Boulevard, Southgate Ave and Queensbridge St and enhanced access to the Arts Precinct.

The plan provides for 98 new trees, 1280sqm of new footpath, 700 metres of bicycle lanes and three upgraded bus and tram stops.

Increases to commuter travel times also remain unchanged at an average 1:51 minutes in the morning peak and 1:37 minustes in the afternoon.

Cr Rohan Leppert praised planning officers for conducting what he described as an “impressive” and “robust” master plan.

“At the moment City Rd drives the communities up in to the towers and we want to pull them back down again to street level and make City Rd a wonderful place to be,” he said.

“You can’t embark on a project as large and frankly expensive as that without a really sound policy base and that’s what we have before us.”

The master plan proposes six-key changes to be delivered over five-years:

  • Transform City Rd West into a “great central street”;
  • Reimagine Kings Way undercroft;
  • Upgrade City Rd East to be safer and more accessible for pedestrians;
  • Connect City Rd with the Arts Centre and the Yarra River;
  • Connect the gardens; and
  • Expand the cycling network.

The master plan’s vision has also been developed to align with other major projects in Southbank including the Melbourne Metro Rail, Boyd Park, Southbank Boulevard master plan and the Arts Blueprint.

A new cycling route will be implemented along Balston and Kavanagh Streets, which will connect to the future linear park at Southbank Boulevard.

Early suggested reuses of the redundant taxi rank underneath Kings Way include a new skate park, climbing wall, sports courts, temporary art space and pop-up pavilions.

The existing open spaces near the Moray St tram stop and Queensbridge St corner will also be upgraded.

Visual upgrades to the St Kilda Rd overpass and Arts Centre walkways from Southgate Avenue are also included in the plans, as is the potential for permanent open space at Testing Grounds.

Southbank Residents Association president Tony Penna praised the City of Melbourne for producing a “landmark report” and said he was particularly happy about plans for new open space.

“We know that open space has been high on the agenda of Southbank of late particularly with the Boyd Park,” he said. “We all know that Southbank has the lowest open space allocation per resident in the municipality.”

“The creative transformation of the currently underutilised space of the Kings Way overpass is a real credit to this council and its officers.”

Mr Penna noted that despite the positive impacts the plan would have on Southbank, the dangers posed by heavy vehicles using City Rd East to connect with the Monash Freeway were still of concern to residents.

Cr Ken Ong agreed and said it was an area the City of Melbourne would continue to address with VicRoads in the future.

“The trucks that you get coming off Power St and City Link coming into the City Rd area use that route because they’re placarded and can’t go into the tunnel and it’s something that has always worried me a lot,” he said.

“They can’t go into the tunnel because they are dangerous but it’s all right for them to go through a heavily populated area, so philosophically I think that’s something that needs to be resolved with VicRoads and other authorities.”

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