As part of the redevelopment of Sydney’s Bays Precinct, multinational engineering and design company Aecom is proposing to convert the car-carrying Anzac Bridge into an elevated park. The bridge, which connects Sydney’s central business district to its western suburbs, is part of the Western Distributor freeway, which cuts through the Australian city’s downtown.
The idea is just one of more than 200 submitted in the government’s “Call for Great Ideas” aimed at reimagining a swath of largely government-owned harborfront property. The plan is to transform the once industrial area into a waterfront recreation, residential and employment center.
David Barnard, Aecom Australia’s chief urban designer, told the Sydney Morning Herald he recognizes that turning the Anzac Bridge into a park “is absolutely out there.”
But the proposal notes that the bridge’s traffic capacity is already limited, and that “more purposeful freeway connections could be made.”
Australia is in the midst of WestConnex, a major transportation project that will redesign connections between Sydney’s freeways. Aecom, which is providing environmental and technical advice for that project, has said “a minor adjustment” to the current freeway proposals could reroute traffic off the Anzac Bridge, freeing it for use as a park.
Barnard and his team dubbed the potential park the “City Connector.” Their proposal: “Imagine an elevated park connecting all of the precincts, neighborhoods, buildings and economies of the bays, Pyrmont, Darling Harbor and the CBD together.”
They call for demolishing parts of the bridge’s access ramps and replacing the roadway with a linear park, a light-rail line and an amphitheater. Barnard says the idea was inspired by Manhattan’s High Line.
“It is just rethinking what you would do with the community space,” Barnard told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It would require strong leadership [to progress]. I’m sure there are large technical hurdles but there are technical hurdles in building any infrastructure.”
There has been talk of extending Sydney’s light-rail line over the Anzac or the parallel, disused, Glebe Island Bridge, but Sydney Planning Minister Rob Stokes told the paper that the government has no plans to turn the Anzac Bridge into a park, or in any way alter its use as a major freeway corridor.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.