THE City of Melbourne has released a plan to investigate improvements to pedestrian congestion, safety and amenity of the southern end of Elizabeth Street while providing better access to public transport and businesses.
The Future Melbourne Committee will consider a report this Tuesday that seeks endorsement to commence targeted consultation with key stakeholders to explore improvement options in Elizabeth Street between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said Elizabeth Street is the major gateway to Melbourne's retail and commercial core but has fallen behind in terms of design and accommodating the needs of our growing city.
"Pedestrians outnumber all other modes of transport at the southern end of Elizabeth Street, yet have the least amount of space," the Lord Mayor said, adding that while the number of pedestrians continues to grow, the number of cars using the road is continually declining.
"By restricting cars on the eastern side of the road between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane, we could provide extra paving for foot traffic, plant trees and improve access to public transport which would result in more people walking past businesses in the area," Cr Doyle said.
"Elizabeth Street is a complex site with a lot of constraints including that it is a floodplain so the first step is to talk to businesses, residents and key agencies in the area about what is going to be possible.
"Over the next 10 years, the central city will undergo a transformation with major projects such as the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, so it's crucial that Elizabeth Street can cater for Melbourne's booming population."
According to the council, traffic analysis of the area shows that between 8am and 9am, 81 per cent of people using the southern end of Elizabeth Street are pedestrians.
Councillor Cathy Oke, Portfolio Chair for Transport, said there are low motor vehicle volumes in the southern section of Elizabeth Street, especially travelling southbound.
"Since 2004 there has been a five per cent reduction in the number of vehicles entering the centre of the city in the morning peak, but the southbound volumes in Elizabeth Street south of Collins Street are down by 65 per cent," Cr Oke said.
"The road is poorly designed, and almost all the destinations for vehicles that drive south on this section of Elizabeth Street can be accessed relatively easily by other routes.
"With the use of public transport continuing to climb, and road traffic in the southern end of Elizabeth Street declining, now is the time to improve this vital city gateway.
"Talking to key stakeholders in the area is an important first step before proposing solid changes; loading and deliveries, property access, stormwater management and subsurface infrastructure need to be considered."
If endorsed, consultation with key stakeholders at the southern end of Elizabeth Street will run from 3 to 31 August and design possibilities will be presented to Council prior to broad community consultation.