Historic Sandridge Rail Bridge to be turned into linear park under $40 million redevelopment
A HISTORIC railway bridge will be transformed into a green walkway with a cafe under a $40 million redevelopment of a key riverside precinct.
However, the bridge’s existing stainless steel sculptures, loathed by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, will remain as a tribute to immigration to Victoria.
The refurbishment of Sandridge Rail Bridge and adjoining Queensbridge Square will be done through a $100 million community benefits package under Crown Casino’s proposed Queensbridge Hotel Tower.
To be developed with the Schiavello Group, the 90-storey tower will be the nation’s highest and feature 388 hotel rooms and 708 apartments in a project promising $2.1 billion in economic value for the state.
Sandridge bridge, which until 1987 was used by the old St Kilda and Port Melbourne rail lines, was built in 1888 and replaced an 1850s structure.
In 2006, its eastern section was converted into a pedestrian bridge with special panels giving information about every country providing migrants to Victoria.
Cr Doyle said that the steel sculptures commissioned at the time, called The Travellers, were hideous, but they would stay for the redevelopment which is influenced by New York’s famous Highline linear park.
“If you want to make a city work don’t make it a place for people to rush through, allow them to linger,” he said.
“And that’s what this project will do, it will allow people to linger, there will be benches, chairs, greenery.”
City of Melbourne city design director Professor Rob Adams said the currently unused western half of the bridge would be planted with trees and opened up with a cafe built on the Southbank end at Queensbridge Square.
“By putting a little cafe or restaurant there you do what Brunetti’s (cafe) does for the City Square, you offer people an opportunity to come and sit there,” he said.
“One thing we love more than anything else is watching people.”
Under the package, Queensbridge Square will also be landscaped and will get a new cafe under measures to better integrate the area with Freshwater Place and Southbank Boulevard.
The Lord Mayor said the city council had previously proposed similar ideas for the precinct, but would now work closely with Crown and Schiavello on the redevelopment.