George Street makeover a step closer

Both the State Government and the City of Sydney agree that light rail from Circular Quay to the city’s east along George Street will be a great thing for Sydney. The vision is for an integrated transport network able to move large groups of commuters quickly and effectively around the CBD and out to major sporting and educational precincts. The good news is that it is going to happen. We blogged about the announcement on Wayfinding Forum in December.

Many see the project as an opportunity to create an environment along George Street similar to that of Times Square in New York or Paris’ Champs-Élysées, turning the thoroughfare into “one of the world’s great plazas”. The City and the NSW Government are aiming to finalise a development agreement by August, but the sticking point may come when deciding how much of George Street will be reserved for pedestrians and light rail exclusively.

The City of Sydney is currently exhibiting their Draft George Street Concept Design at Customs House, which involves “pedestrianising” a much larger section of the city’s spine than the 40% initially planned by the NSW Government.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore says “by slightly extending the pedestrian area to the north and south, we believe there are significant additional benefits for pedestrians and traffic management”. Renowned Danish urban designer Jan Gehl, weighed in to the debate as the City’s key consultant on the project saying he would have wanted the street’s pedestrian zone ”to be as long as possible”.

However, desire and reality may be two vastly different things with NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian down-playing the suggestion, stating that the government intends to deliver the project as it was announced last year.

Whatever the result of no doubt spirited negotiations, this type of urban development is what the Sydney CBD is crying out for, and we cannot wait for the start of construction in 2015.

More on the NSW Government’s blue print for public transport expansion can be read here.

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