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Council pushes government to fund remaining City Rd projects

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David Schout

The state government should “fully fund” outstanding projects in the City Road Master Plan according to the City of Melbourne, as the council pushes the Andrews Government to deliver ahead of a state election in November.

Much-needed upgrades to Southbank’s main street have been earmarked since the City Road Master Plan was endorsed back in 2016, but the project has been subject to several delays along the way, to the detriment of locals.

Now, in a list of “advocacy priorities”, Lord Mayor Sally Capp said City Rd upgrades were one of several projects “where the city ambition needs to be matched by other levels of government.” Funding responsibilities for the master plan are split between the state government (as City Rd is an arterial road) and the City of Melbourne, and it is understood that the council has either completed or more than half-completed the council-led initiatives as part of the wider project.

This includes installing separated bike lanes on Southbank Boulevard and Kavanagh St (completed), a new pedestrian crossing on Alexandra Avenue (completed) and the reimagining of Kings Way undercroft as a community space (expected completion 2022-23).

However, the council has said that the government must “fully fund” remaining projects, none of which have started.

This includes:

  • Upgrades to the City Rd carriageway, including additional signalised pedestrian crossings
  • Construction of City Rd bike lanes and changes to current parking arrangements
  • Upgrades to the intersection of City Rd and Southbank Boulevard
  • Streetscape upgrades including footpaths, street trees and public lighting

The state government did not answer questions from Southbank News about whether it would fully fund the remaining projects.

In October 2021 the government announced a $3.8 million upgrade to the notorious City Rd and Power St intersection, where a truck hit and injured five pedestrians five months prior, and said this was its primary focus.

 

“The safety of road users is our number one priority – which is why we are delivering a vital upgrade to the intersection of City Rd and Power St in Southbank, creating more space between pedestrians and road users while providing more room for heavy vehicles,” a government spokesperson said.

 

As part of those works, all lanes on City Rd will be shifted north and the stop line for west-bound traffic pushed back.

This will create more room for large trucks to turn and to allow for the widening of the footpath, where an automated pedestrian crossing and sensors to trigger changes to traffic lights will remain in place to provide additional time for pedestrians to cross.

According to the government, those works will begin later this year.

While the council has put the onus back on the state government from a funding perspective, it has the responsibility to deliver the project and broker the appropriate funding, something Cr Rohan Leppert indicated to Southbank News last year.

“Southbank residents endorsed the City Road Master Plan in 2016 and expect the council to deliver it,” he said.

Cr Leppert said the onus was on council to broker arrangements across a number of levels of government, and that “financing these projects has always been the central challenge.”

City Rd has been Southbank’s main street since European settlement when it was established as the original route connecting settlers to Port Phillip Bay.

It is now the central spine of one of Australia’s most densely populated suburbs.

When the council endorsed the master plan in 2016, it said that while Southbank had “changed dramatically”, City Rd had “not kept up with this change and the street fails to meet the needs of the local community.”

“The design of the street reflects its more recent industrial past, prioritising east-west vehicular movements rather than walking and cycling throughout the Southbank neighbourhood,” documents read.

In its recently released Victorian Election 2022 Advocacy Priorities — which also pushes for huge investment in delivering Greenline, and appropriate public transport for Fishermans Bend — the council underlined the importance of City Rd to a growing local area.

“As Southbank transforms into a high-density central-city neighbourhood, the role of City Rd needs to change to ensure that it is a pleasant place to be, as well as a street that is easy and safe to get around,” it said.

“City Rd is a difficult street to cross. It is poorly landscaped, noisy and in some areas unsafe. This makes it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to get around. Bus and tram stops are in poor condition … it must balance its role as an important transport corridor and ensure it is a people-friendly place that supports local street life.” •

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