We are improving the south-end of Elizabeth Street to make it a better gateway for the thousands of pedestrians who use it every day.
In 2017 we finalised a concept for the south-end of Elizabeth Street that involves five key components:
- Southbound traffic removed
- Expanded pedestrian area
- Trams remain
- Western footpath upgraded
- Northbound traffic remains
Upgrades to the eastern side of the road will more than double the amount of pedestrian space in the street. We will create a better space for people with new bluestone paving, street furniture, lighting, trees and drainage improvements.
The western footpath upgrade was completed in 2017.
Timeline item 1
Targeted stakeholder consultation and community engagement - August 2016
Timeline item 2
Release of concept design May 2017
Timeline item 3
Road closure public advertising period June 2017
Timeline item 4
Construction of western side (June-September 2017)
Timeline item 5
Pop-up park (13 December 2017 to 25 March 2018)
Timeline item 6
Construction works at 276 Flinders Street completed and Elizabeth Street site vacated
Timeline item 7
Final design plans recommenced for permanent upgrade of eastern side
- Why are you focusing on this section of Elizabeth Street?
Elizabeth Street is one of Melbourne’s most significant city spines and has played an important role in the history and evolution of the city. The southern end of Elizabeth Street acts as a major gateway to Melbourne’s retail and commercial heart and defines many people’s first impression and welcome to the city centre.
The Elizabeth Street/Flinders Street intersection is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the CBD with over 9000 pedestrians using it during the morning peak. Despite the volume of pedestrians, this section of Elizabeth Street is characterised by poor amenity and highly constrained pedestrian space. Pedestrian volumes on Elizabeth Street are expected to increase once construction of the Metro Tunnel Project starts.
The southern section of Elizabeth Street has the highest number of pedestrians across the length of the street. Pedestrians outnumber all other modes of transport in the area but have the least amount of space.
Overall this section of Elizabeth Street does not meet the needs of our constantly growing city.
- How will the upgrade improve this section of Elizabeth Street?
Pedestrians and tram users make up 96% of the people using this part of Elizabeth Street in both the weekday morning and afternoon peak hours. During the morning peak (8 to 9am), there are on average 9,300 pedestrians using footpaths on both sides of this section of Elizabeth Street – that’s more than on the corresponding block of Swanston Street.
In contrast, the number of motor vehicles using Elizabeth Street in the morning and afternoon peak times is very low (73 and 122 motor vehicles per hour respectively). Between 2004 and 2015 there was a 65% decline in the number of motor vehicles using Elizabeth Street.
The street is not being used as a through-route. It caters predominantly for local needs – as very few vehicles that enter at La Trobe Street travel the full length southbound to reach the southern end of Elizabeth Street (equivalent to only 14 vehicles in the morning peak).
The upgrade will allow the available space in the south-end of Elizabeth Street to be used better. Reconfiguring the space will reduce congestion by allowing pedestrians to move more freely and efficiently through the area and improve access to public transport at the tram stop and Flinders Street Station.
- How will amenity be improved?
The proposed closure of this section of Elizabeth Street is designed to create a bigger pedestrian area and a better space for people with new bluestone paving, street furniture, lighting and street trees. Drainage improvement works will be undertaken at the same time.
- Will there be changes to traffic flow systems?
Because the number of vehicles using the space is so low – the equivalent of two vehicles per minute at the busiest time– the newly configured space will not impact traffic flow through the rest of the city. There won’t be any need for new traffic treatments, other than modifications to traffic signals at the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane to account for the need to turn all southbound traffic right into Flinders Lane. Vehicles will still be able to travel along Elizabeth Street in a northbound direction between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane.
- What about the rest of Elizabeth Street?
We are preparing a strategic opportunities plan for the central city area of Elizabeth Street (Latrobe Street to Little Collins Street). It will outline the broad strategic role of the street and help guide future streetscape improvements.
- Will there be changes to the tram stop?
- We are working with Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams to understand where opportunities exist to improve the existing tram stop.
- Can cyclists still use Elizabeth Street?
The City of Melbourne is exploring options to accommodate cyclists along the eastern side of the road in the future. Cyclists are able to continue to use Elizabeth Street in the northbound direction, and along the remainder of Elizabeth Street. There are two north-south bicycle commuter routes nearby on Swanston Street and William Street.
- How will the road closure impact emergency access?
The design of the new space includes access to buildings for emergency vehicles.
- How will this impact flooding?
- The final streetscape design will be completed in consultation with Melbourne Water and include innovative approaches to water management. Measures will include tree planting beds and larger access drains for increased water infiltration, allowing water to be swiftly drained into the substantial underground pipes. Flooding impacts will also be addressed through the Elizabeth Street Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP) which proposes initiatives throughout the entire catchment area which will reduce impacts downstream in Elizabeth Street, including the recently constructed two million litre flood mitigation tank at the top of the Elizabeth Street catchment at Lincoln Square.