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Sydney footpaths to shrink for wider roads

The NSW state government is about to start shrinking footpaths in Sydney’s CBD to make it easier for cars and other vehicles to travel through the city.

From Sunday 19 July, the modification of road lanes, alteration of kerbs and the removal of car parks will begin as part of the government’s city centre capacity improvement plan, which it says is linked to the construction of a light rail system.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the City of Sydney was strongly opposed to aspects of the plan, including the narrowing of the Market Street footpath in between Kent Street and Castlereagh Street.

“The city recognises the need to maintain vehicle access during the light rail construction, however, walking accounts for 92 percent of all trips within the Sydney CBD and many footpaths are already overcrowded,” a council representative said.

The city council said that over 4,000 pedestrians use the Market Street footpath in one hour during lunchtime.

A report released in May 2015 showed that a significant number of submissions regarding the plan expressed concern about the alterations to footpaths. Of the 122 overall submissions, 82 were put forward by individuals.

Around 49 percent of the submissions included key comments about “the proposal’s promotion of private car use over pedestrians, cyclists and other forms of transport”, while 32 percent contained comments regarding “impacts resulting from reducing the width of the footpath”.

Kerb extensions will be demolished at 10 locations and kerbs will be demolished at College Street between Macquarie Street and Oxford Street and Broadway between Mountain Street and Abercrombie Street. A cycleway and meridian strip on College Street will also be demolished. Kerb extensions are used to extend footpaths and help to improve pedestrian safety.

The works aim to reduce traffic congestion and will be carried out at 17 locations around the CBD. The Roads and Maritime Agency said that the overall program will be carried out in 10 months.

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