Pedestrians benefit from Elizabeth St revamp
By David Schout
More than four years after its proposed start date, streetscape upgrades at the southern end of Elizabeth St have finally been completed.
Pedestrians will benefit most from the works, with an extra 400 square metres of footpath space — roughly the size of a basketball court — plus new trees and street furniture installed.
A new drain network was also installed to alleviate the chance of flooding, the last of which occurred in 2011 when a severe rainstorm caused flash flooding and disruptions to the transport network.
Works were originally due to begin in June 2017, however a series of delays meant it did not begin until 2021.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the project would ensure those on foot would now experience a “safer, cleaner and more inviting space”, and acknowledged the impact of continued delays.
“This project has delivered significant improvements for one of the busiest parts of our city – making it easier for people to move, shop, eat and meet,” she said.
“This has been a long and at times frustrating project and I want to thank residents, shoppers, workers, visitors and most importantly local businesses for their patience while these works were delivered.”
The stretch of Elizabeth St south, between Flinders St and Flinders Lane, is one of the busiest pedestrian areas in Melbourne.
Before COVID-19, up to 10,000 people would cross at the Flinders St and Elizabeth St intersection every hour during the morning peak.
It has been referred to as the “gateway” to the city, as it serves commuters exiting Flinders Street Station, the busiest station on Melbourne’s metropolitan network.
However, it has long been earmarked for renewal.
Former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle called it the “ugly duckling” of the city, and “pretty grotty” in 2016.
Beyond aesthetics, it was also seen as an inefficient and even unsafe area at times for pedestrians •
In 2019, as part of research for the council’s 2030 Transport Strategy, hundreds of pedestrians reported feeling “cramped” in certain areas within the Hoddle Grid, including Elizabeth St south.
Cr Capp said the new environment would benefit all those who used the space.
“The new open space we’ve delivered will entice more people to the area and keep them there for longer, helping to support local businesses and bring the buzz back to Melbourne. More open space means happier pedestrians and creates a more welcoming and safer environment for visitors.”