Bridge to nowhere

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By Daniel Wilson

A bridge has caused a row and divided two cities. The City of Port Phillip has proposed a bridge across the Yarra that would allow trams and cyclists to travel from the CBD to the brand new suburb of Fishermans Bend. The City of Melbourne doesn’t like it.

Port Phillip Mayor Amanda Stevens said “the Collins Street tram extension is Port Phillip Council’s number one state election priority.”

“We are committed to ensuring the long-term success of Fishermans Bend, which will be home to over 80,000 residents and 40,000 workers,” Cr Stevens said.

Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, said “that design is the epitome of ugliness; it desecrates the Yarra and it desecrates Yarra’s Edge”, The Age reported.

Cr Doyle went on to argue it was simply a bad idea to create “a tram-way in the air to divide a community like Yarra’s Edge’’. Moreover, “from an engineering point of view, we don’t believe it can be built” he said.

Former Mayor of Port Phillip, Dick Gross, came to the defence of the current Council, telling St Kilda News he loves the Port Phillip suggestion.

“Lord Mayor Robert Doyle says the proposal is the epitome of ugliness. I say if the Lord Mayor is searching for the epitome of ugliness, then his mirror is much more of a candidate than this wonderful bridge,” Gross said.

Mayor Amanda Stevens maintained the “City of Port Phillip does not have a preferred design for the bridge”, but argued the importance of the project. “If Fishermans Bend is to be a true extension of the CBD, then there needs to be a bridge which connects it to Collins Street”.

As it happens, the City of Port Phillip likes the design. “We love this proposed design. It’s innovative and will provide a point of difference from a conventional bridge as it effectively creates a green park across the Yarra,” Cr Stevens said.

“We realise there will be different views on aesthetics but establishing this much-needed connection is imperative if we want Fishermans Bend to be a success.”

“Extending the Collins Street address would result in business attraction and investment. The connection is also essential to service the 80 per cent of the future Fishermans Bend population who will want to tram, walk or ride into the city,” Cr Stevens said.

Dick Gross also argued the bridge was needed. “Linkages are so important around Docklands and Fisherman’s Bend. The distances are surprisingly large. Without these sorts of improvements, these newer areas of Melbourne are destined to be car dependent.”

But Dick Gross concedes the likelihood of this bridge becoming a reality is not high, “I suspect that the engineering difficulties might get in the way.”

Aesthetics aside, the engineering challenge is to allow pleasure boats to sail underneath it in order to access the recently build marina. The proposed design would see a drawbridge overcome this challenge, but a drawbridge which includes tram tracks and overhead power-lines would be a unique and expensive piece of infrastructure.

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