City Road (A36) is a 1 km road segment in Sydney, part of the much longer “Princes Highway“, that extends King Street (the heart of the Newtown Neighborhood) to Broadway (which is renamed Parramatta Road just to the west) (map).
King Street is a lively (dare I say the “v”-word, vibrant), narrow-ish (though still wide in places) active street with retail and restaurants fronting both sides, and people traveling back and forth. As a newcomer, King Street strikes me as a combination of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley (on steroids) plus Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill. In contradistinction, City Road is a much wider car sewer, bi-secting the University of Sydney, which has a footbridge (pedestrian overpass) to keep the kids from playing in traffic. It once had a tram (streetcar) that continued from the City through Broadway on to King Street.
At some point (I would guess the 1950s, but perhaps as late as the 1970s) City Road was duplicated (i.e. widened with a median dividing the road). This allows traffic to go a bit faster before they are stopped at the same traffic lights that undoubtedly existed previously, and saving very little, if any travel time. (The queues at the lights might be shorter (fewer cars deep) and wider (i.e. more lanes), so there is possibly some time savings at the junctions, thus possibly reducing the likelihood of stopping, but it can’t be very much).
So my idea (this doesn’t even rise to the level of proposal) is to reduce City Road from 6-8 lanes back to 2-4 travel lanes (i.e. just use one side of the Median (I would say the southern side), plus right turn (the equivalent of left turn where people drive on the right side of the street) lanes as needed, and develop in the right-of-way on the northern side. Some right-of-way (two lanes worth) could be preserved for a future transitway (buses or trams) as well. This would slow traffic, but be more fitting for an urban road in the heart of a major university.
The opportunity to develop is particular apt at Victoria Park, just to the east of the University, where new, valuable apartments, lining the now narrowed City Road, with park views could be constructed without taking park lands or casting much shade on the park. These apartments would have very good access to the University and the Sydney CBD by walking and transit respectively, and would instead of generating traffic, likely reduce it (as if you live closer to your destination you are more likely to not have or use a car, and this would substitute for housing farther away).
I am sure there are a thousand reasons this can’t be done, and I am new here and naive. Maybe someone has already proposed this. I don’t have clue about the institutional issues.
However, bigger picture, the future with the gains from efficiency of vehicle automation is fewer lanes and narrower roads. Demographers forecast a huge expansion of the population of Sydney and the enrollment in the University set to rise. This site seems a perfect match.
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