Sydney's Anzac Bridge should become a giant park.
Far fetched perhaps, but that's an idea being pushed by the multinational engineering and design company that is carrying out environmental and technical advice for Australia's largest motorway project, WestConnex.
Should the Anzac Bridge be turned into a park?
There were mixed feelings among those using the Anzac Bridge today over a proposal to remove cars from the iconic gateway to the city.
In what it titled the "City Connector", Aecom's "great idea" for the so-called Bays Precinct, just west of Sydney's CBD, involves demolishing parts of the bridge's access ramps and creating an elevated park.
That would enhance the development potential for White Bay, it said, and help to "fundamentally change how Sydney is viewed on the world stage".
"Imagine an elevated park connecting all of the precincts, neighbourhoods, buildings and economies of the bays, Pyrmont, Darling Harbour and the CBD together," Aecom's report reads.
The company's submission was one of more than 200 made to the state government's property arm, UrbanGrowth, which called for "great ideas" for the redevelopment of the Bays Precinct. It extends from White Bay in the west, to Rozelle and Blackwattle bays and Sydney's Fish Market, to Pyrmont.
Aecom raised the possibility of transforming the Anzac Bridge and the Western Distributor motorway's viaducts over Darling Harbour ahead of the construction of the $16.8 billion WestConnex project and a proposal for a third road crossing of Sydney Harbour.
The company said a "minor adjustment to the current freeway proposals" could link WestConnex, the Cross City Tunnel, a third harbour tunnel, the Harbour Bridge and the M5 motorway.
That would free up the Anzac Bridge for other uses such as a park, connecting the Bays Precinct with "a new linear active transport and open space corridor".
The idea for the "Anzac Bridge Park" is the brainchild of Aecom Australia's chief urban designer, David Barnard, and his team. Their submission includes maps of the proposal for the "City Connector".
Mr Barnard said the team drew on lessons from New York's "High Line", a 2.3-kilometre park in lower Manhattan built on a disused part of an elevated railway line.
His team reached the conclusion that if the government was considering building the Anzac Bridge and Western Distributor today, a tunnel would probably be constructed instead to keep heavy traffic underground and better use prized parts of the inner city as public spaces.
I'm sure there are large technical hurdles but there are are technical hurdles in building any infrastructureDavid Barnard, Aecom Australia's chief urban designer
Rather than tear down the bridge, Mr Barnard said it could be turned into a linear park, and include a light rail line and an amphitheatre on its eastern slope – or "performance up in the air".
"It is just rethinking what you would do with the community space," he said.
Mr Barnard said he accepted that the idea "is absolutely out there", but added that it had been well received by different levels of government.
"It would require strong leadership [to progress]. I'm sure there are large technical hurdles but there are are technical hurdles in building any infrastructure," he said.
His submission notes that traffic capacity on the Anzac Bridge was limited and that "more purposeful freeway connections could be made".
Many of the submissions to UrbanGrowth's "call for great ideas" focused on the derelict White Bay power station.
Other ideas raised included creating "city beaches" at Rozelle and Blackwattle Bays, similar to that at Brisbane's South Bank.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes said "bold and innovative ideas" were what the government was looking for from UrbanGrowth's project.
Mr Stokes said the government had no plans to alter the use of Anzac Bridge as a major road corridor but it would look to incorporate the best ideas into plans for the redevelopment of the Bays Precinct.