As the New South Wales Government mulls over a plan to turn the busy Cahill Expressway into a pedestrian highline walkway, the City of Sydney has suggested a two-stage process that would transform the Circular Quay into a grand public space. While the first stage will see the removal of the expressway, the second stage will have the railway station and lines moved underground.

While calling upon the Government to ditch the highline plan, Lord Mayor Clover Moore has asked for the Cahill Expressway to be demolished on completion of the Western Harbour Tunnel. The railway station and train lines would remain in place until the lines go underground.

Elaborating on her vision of a ‘Cahill-less Circular Quay’ in a Facebook post, Moore said: “Sydney deserves a city that has a seamless connection to our stunning harbour. The NSW Government shares this vision but we know it won’t happen overnight – so we’ve designed a staged process.”

“This plan paves the way for us to remove the horrible concrete divide at Circular Quay once and for all.

“We need to invest in the long term future of Sydney now – rather than develop an interim solution that will need fixing in years to come.”

New artist impressions of the vision for Circular Quay created by leading architecture firm Bates Smart show a large public square replacing the expressway and station, and connecting to the waterfront.

“Sydney is a harbour city, and Circular Quay is not only where the city meets the harbour, but it is also the site of the first landing, and thus the birthplace of Australia. But because of its function as a transportation node and a lack of vision, the Quay has become dominated by infrastructure,” Bates Smart stated.

“The removal of the Cahill Expressway presents the opportunity to transform Circular Quay into a grand urban room. Deleting the expressway wouldn’t impede traffic flow, as the Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel connect North Sydney to the western CBD and the city’s eastern edges. Without the expressway, Circular Quay would be the gateway to Sydney that reconnects the city with the harbour and creates a people place.”

Bates Smart has been working closely with the City of Sydney to campaign for the removal of the Cahill Expressway. Simply transforming the Cahill Expressway into a highline is not enough, says Bates Smart director Philip Vivian.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said, “It is decorating an eyesore without solving the fundamental problem. If we are spending public money to update Circular Quay, let’s maximise the benefits for Sydney and the public.”

Image: Bates Smart