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High Line ambitions for Victoria’s Chandler Highway bridge

The Victorian government is seeking design ideas from the public for two new public spaces as part of the Chandler Highway upgrade.

A government media release calls for ideas for an “urban oasis”, saying proposals received so far include “community gardens, parks, playgrounds and open spaces inspired by New York’s famous High Line.” The High Line is a 2.3-kilometre linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad.

The government has committed $110 million to widening the Chandler Highway to six lanes and building a new bridge to the west of the existing bridge.

The highway currently has four lanes, two in each direction, with these lanes reducing to two at the bridge over the Yarra River. Carrying 44,000 vehicles per day, it is operating above capacity causing extended delays and congestion.

Under the development, the current bridge will be converted into a shared user path with room on and underneath the bridge.

Similar projects have been seen in Sydney in the form of the Goods Line, a historic former railway that once transported commercial goods such as wheat, wool and meat. The line had been disused and closed to the public for decades before it was transformed by Aspect Studios and CHROFI.

Meanwhile, the government is calling on experienced companies to express their interest in building the $110 million Chandler Highway Upgrade. Shortlisted companies will then be part of a tender process for the project in mid-2016.

The Victorian government is also nominating the bridge to be listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Minister for roads and safety Luke Donnellan said the upgrade would slash travel times by eight minutes during the morning peak hour traffic and 13 minutes during the evening.

Member for Northcote Fiona Richardson said the Chandler Highway upgrade would help to further diversify the neighbourhood.

“We want to hear from as many people as possible on how these spaces can be converted into safe, vibrant destinations for residents, cyclists, pedestrians and visitors to the neighbourhood.”

The online forum to discuss ideas for the Chandler Bridge will be open until 15 June.

The proposed completion date for the project is mid-2018.

For more on Diller Scofidio and Renfro’s High Line, see Narratives of Place: New York’s High Line and Central Park, and New York City: Crowd-funded public realm.

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