THE City of Sydney says it will spend $180 million on street and traffic improvements if the NSW State Government constructs light rail along George Street, in Sydney's CBD.
Calling it the biggest single investment since the Sydney Olympics, Sydney City Council said it is prepared to work with the NSW Government to rework one of the city's most congested routes.
"Everyone knows light rail is the solution to the gridlock in the city. We are putting our money on the table to help make it a reality and so Sydney residents, workers, visitors, businesses and tourists get the maximum benefit," Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
"Our investment is dependant on the State Government building light rail down George Street which all our research shows is the optimal route into the city centre," Ms Moore added.
The Council said that as part of the project, George Street should be pedestrianised between Bathurst Street and Hunter Street.
"George Street will flourish if we remove the traffic congestion currently choking it. We want to open up a network of vibrant lanes and small plazas that encourage shops, bars and other small businesses to thrive," Ms Moore said.
The Lord Mayor said bold changes were urgently needed to address congestion in Sydney as congestion is "crippling" the city and "not going to get any better unless we radically rethink the way our city works and how people move around."
The $180 million proposed investment by the Council would include:
- Streetscape works including new widened footpaths and drainage;
- Revitalising laneways;
- Street lighting, signage and landscaping; and
- Traffic management works.
"Many international cities have pedestrianised roads in their city centre and these cities continue to thrive - we only have to look at New York's Broadway, London's new West End and our own Pitt Street Mall to see evidence of how it works well," Ms Moore said.
The $180 million will be set aside in the Council's long term financial plan detailed in the draft 2011 - 2014 Corporate Plan and Budget. The Council said it will not need to borrow the $180 million and that there will be no new taxes, rate increases or additional costs to ratepayers.
The proposal will be discussed at an upcoming Council Committee meeting and debated at a full Council meeting on Monday 16 May. If passed, the proposal will go on public exhibition for a month.