State government plans to build a bridge across Anzac Parade near the Sydney Cricket Ground and one through Moore Park have been described as ”monument building” at the expense of public land.
When former Premier Barry O’Farrell announced in February that a $25 million footbridge over Anzac Parade would be built by next year, his government had not yet promised a second footbridge would also be built a couple of hundred metres away as part of the light rail line to the eastern suburbs.
The design of Mr O’Farrell’s bridge has angered some local and community advocates, who say it would take up too much of the public land at Moore Park.
”We want a safe crossing and we want better connectivity but the point for us was that it won’t really work,” Will Mrongovius of the Paddington Society said of the bridge, to be called the Albert (Tibby) Cotter Walkway after a former Test cricketer killed in World War One.
One problem with the walkway, Mr Mrongovius said, was that it would not be built on the main corridor used by people to walk from Central Station to the SCG and to Allianz Stadium.
The majority of people, according to the government’s own studies, walk up Foveaux and Fitzroy streets. They would have to walk out of their way to use the Tibby Cotter Walkway.
Another problem was that the walkway would not provide a direct connection for cyclists to the Anzac Parade bike path. Cyclists from the city using the new walkway would have to cross back over the Anzac Parade bus lane to continue to ride east.
“We want Moore Park east and west connected for pedestrians and cyclists, including large event crowds, but we don’t want a massive built structure on the grasslands,” David Borella of advocacy group BIKESydney said.
”In any case, a $25 million bridge purposed for cycling must connect directly to the Anzac Parade cycleway rather than still require cyclists to cross the high-speed bus way,” he said.
A few weeks after Mr O’Farrell announced the walkway, Transport for NSW proposed a separate bridge over Anzac Parade to make it easier for Sydney High students to get to and from school when a new tram line is built. That bridge would be about 350 metres south of the Albert (Tibby) Cotter Walkway.
The independent member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, said he hoped the new premier would reconsider the plans.
”It seems like monument building at the expense of parkland,” Mr Greenwich said of the Tibby Cotter Walkway. ”It also seems like it is an extremely expensive walkway that the community doesn’t want and that cyclists say they won’t use.”
A spokeswoman for Roads and Maritime Services said both Bicycle NSW and the City of Sydney supported the plan and the two bridges would have different uses. The Tibby Cotter Walkway would ”cater for thousands of pedestrians and cyclists with links to Moore Park, Central railway station and the Bourke Street bike path”, she said.
Kevin Eadie, of Action for Public Transport, said ideally the state government would not be spending money on two bridges in a similar area.
Mr Eadie said the Sydney High bridge needed to be built for safety reasons, but an alternative to the Tibby Cotter Walkway would be a pedestrian tunnel built as part of the light rail tunnel proposed to be carved through Moore Park.
”It is too much of an intrusion on the park, the heritage park, and it is smack in the middle,” he said of the walkway.