Improvements to one of Melbourne’s most congested pedestrian crossings will be fast-tracked this month, with increased footpath space being created on Spencer Street.
Starting this week, 740 square metres of adjustable footpath extensions will be installed on the east-side of Spencer Street between Lonsdale and Collins streets as part of a joint project between the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government.
The increased space for pedestrians will help support physical distancing and provide more space to get the city moving once COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
89 per cent of trips within the Hoddle Grid are made on foot, yet only 26 per cent of street space is allocated to footpaths.
The pedestrian crossing on Spencer Street, outside Southern Cross Station, is historically one of Victoria’s busiest intersections. More than 15,000 people crossed there during the morning peak early in 2020, with pedestrians outnumbering vehicles by five to one.
The footpath extensions will be created by reducing the number of southbound traffic lanes on Spencer Street from two to one between Little Bourke Street and Collins Street.
The City of Melbourne notes that modelling suggests this will have minimal impact on the wider transport network. The works will be completed with adjustable materials so changes can be monitored and evaluated prior to permanent works.
Precast kerbing made from recycled glass will be installed, along with bicycle hoops. Traffic signals have already been changed to provide more time and reduce delays for people crossing Spencer Street.
The project forms a part of a wider program to deliver 40 kilometres of new bike lanes and pedestrian improvements across the city, in partnership with the Victorian Government.
City of Melbourne Chief Executive Officer, Justin Hanney, said Spencer Street has historically been one of Melbourne’s most congested intersections and it’s normally used by thousands of pedestrians every day.
“The increased footpath space around this major transport hub will provide more room to physically distance and boost confidence that people can safely return to the city,” he said.
“These improvements are part of a larger project to make it easier for people to walk and ride bikes around Melbourne and to help encourage people back to the city.”