Alfresco dining, bluestone footpaths, ideas for friendlier Elizabeth St

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MELBOURNE City Council will consider making parts of Elizabeth Street in the CBD more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, as it continues to weigh up options that will free up the city of cars and trucks.

It recently revealed plans to close off Little Collins, Little Bourke, Little Lonsdale and Little La Trobe Streets during certain periods and reducing speed limits, given estimates that the number of people in the city each day will grow from 911,000 to 1.4 million n less than 20 years.

The Council has already approved $2.1 million works on the southern end of Elizabeth Street, opposite Flinders Street station and stretching from Flinders Street to Little Collins Street, with works expected to begin early in 2020 after a delay.

The Elizabeth Street Strategic Opportunities Plan that will be considered by the Council on Tuesday focuses on the northern end, from Little Collins Street to La Trobe Street.

If endorsed, works would be phased in over the next six years. Two city blocks that include tram stops would be pedestrianised and closed to vehicular traffic – between La Trobe and Little Lonsdale streets and between Little Bourke and Bourke Streets – while footpaths on both sides would be widened.

Blocks without tram stops will have a large portion of their western sides of the street remain open for private vehicles.

Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood said studies show that a 10% increase in walking connectivity in the Hoddle Grid is worth $2.1 billion in economic uplift.

He said the proposed changes would see Elizabeth Street reconfigured to prioritise access for pedestrians, cyclists and trams in the central retail area from Flinders Street up to La Trobe Street.

“As the gateway to Melbourne’s retail and commercial heart, Elizabeth Street plays a key role in how visitors, residents and workers enjoy our city.

“We want people to feel more welcome so that when they cross the road from Flinders Street Station they can easily walk down wider bluestone paved footpaths, pop into one of the many retail outlets, take a seat on new street furniture and enjoy alfresco dining.”

Councillor Frances Gilley said Elizabeth Street today carries fewer cars than many residential streets.

“Pedestrians and people on trams make up 90% of street users but have the least amount of space.”

Australian Property Journal