Amblers thrill as big plans afoot for span no long

Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday 5 March 2002

Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 5 March 2002

Amblers thrill as big plans afoot for span no longer spick

By Joseph Kerr

Photo: View to change ... the walkway along the expressway will be widened and made more accessible. Photo: Peter Rae

The Cahill Expressway is to become Bob Carr's walkway.

The freeway with the best view in town has been a slash across the face of the city since 1958, but while it allows a speedy flow of cars between the eastern side of the CBD and the Harbour Bridge, pedestrians get only a narrow, winding footpath barely separated from the roaring traffic.

But under a $10 million upgrade announced yesterday by the Premier and his Transport Minister, Carl Scully, pedestrians will have a better chance of enjoying the view across Sydney Harbour.

The Cahill Walk is to be widened and separated from cars by a new fence, while a new pedestrian bridge will be built over Macquarie Street so walkers will be able to stroll up from the Royal Botanic Gardens, rather than enter by a dingy set of stairs.

A six-metre raised viewing platform with canopy and noise protection will be built at the midpoint, while two glass lifts will be built, making it easier for people to get up from the Circular Quay concourse level.

The project should start in July and be finished by the end of the year.

Mr Carr said now that Sydney was a global city, he hoped to draw more international tourists to enjoy the view.

"If we're going to see it's spick and span, attractive, we've got to make these careful investments from time to time to see that our assets are kept well maintained. It's as simple as that," Mr Carr said.

Mr Scully said the work would also include opening up Circular Quay station. Glass walls will replace the current solid walls, making life more pleasant for passengers waiting for a train or idling at the platform.

"It's probably potentially the most beautiful view you can have from a railway station anywhere in the world and you go up on there and there's this clutter," Mr Scully said.

The chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby, said the announcement that the Botanic Gardens and the Bridge would be connected in an environmentally friendly way was "fabulous" .

He said he hoped it would encourage people to get off the train at Milsons Point and walk across the bridge to the city.

Although Mr Carr said it would be an "aesthetic gain" to tear down the expressway, the cost would be prohibitive and it would not happen while he was Premier.

Opening the first stage in 1958, the then premier, Joe Cahill, described it as a "striking symbol of Sydney's growth and maturity".

"I think the whole of the work could be called a triumph of democratic collective planning, in so far as citizens and leading experts were consulted as to the ultimate design," Mr Cahill said.
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