Early works to prepare for a transformation of the southern end of Elizabeth Street are now getting underway with some disruption to bike routes expected.
Work was due to be humming by now, but was impeded by COVID-related construction restrictions and other issues.
Sections of the road and footpath are to be excavated with diversions to critical water and other services to take place during the quiet period.
These works will prepare the area for streetscape improvements in 2021.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said: “We don’t want to impact neighbouring businesses in the lead-up to the Christmas period just when COVID-19 restrictions start to ease, so we’re carrying out this package of early works in October and finishing in November.
“We will be diverting water services in preparation for a new stormwater drain in 2021, and installing a new water service for future irrigation.
“Then we’ll come back in 2021 to create a more welcoming environment for city visitors, workers and shoppers returning to the central city by widening the footpath, installing new street furniture, new bluestone paving and greenery.”
There is a large stormwater drain under Elizabeth Street, once the course of a creek.
The work will take place on Elizabeth Street between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane.
Eventually the transformation will move further north along the street, where major improvements to bike access will be made.
Streetscape works in 2021 will see the southbound traffic lane closed and the footpath on the eastern side of Elizabeth Street extended to double the amount of space for pedestrians, creating more room for people to safely access nearby public transport and shops while maintaining physical distance.
“Before COVID-19 restrictions more than 9300 people used to walk across the Elizabeth Street intersection during the evening peak hour, it was and will again be one of our busiest spots for foot traffic,” the Lord Mayor said.
“All across the city we are creating more space for people to safely get around, and exploring how we can utilise our outdoor space for dining and other activities to welcome people back into the city.
“We’ve been contacted by businesses in the area who want us to get on with the job before restrictions ease. It’s been an extremely difficult year for our local businesses and the last thing we want to do is cause disruption just as they are able to reopen, that’s why we are delivering this project in two stages.”
In January 2020, designs were finalised to increase the pedestrian space by 400 square metres – the size of a basketball court.
Early works on the Elizabeth Street south upgrades include:
- Completion of investigative activities to determine the location of the existing Melbourne Water drain and other in-ground services
- Diversion of water services and water main
- Excavation of road and footpath to access existing drain
- Installation of a new water service for future irrigation and drinking fountain
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