Local community groups have launched a joint proposal aimed at saving the Glebe Island Bridge.
Signed off on Monday by a host of community activists in the Inner West, the proposal recommends the State Government redevelop the bridge forming a transport avenue incorporating light rail, cycleways and pedestrian access.
President of the Pyrmont Community Group, Jean Stuart said plans to redevelop Rozelle with a new marina, exhibition centre and cruise ship terminal in White Bay have seen the need for improved transport in the precinct.
“The bridge links the city and the west,” she said. “It wouldn’t cost much to put light rail in and it would connect up with the [Sydney] Fish Market and go right through there.”
Situated alongside the Anzac Bridge, the Glebe Island Bridge has been in steady decline with rumours of impending demolishment rife for years.
“The fact is if they are going to build a super-yacht marina, if they are going to build [Glebe Island] Expo, if they are going to have the [White Bay] cruise ship terminal there … we are going to need it,” Ms Stuart said.
While now a decrepit structure, Ms Stuart said the bridge is still operational and capable of being restored to full capacity.
“The Anzac Bridge is almost at gridlock and now there is a rationale for keeping the old bridge provided it doesn’t open at peak periods to use it for light rail, pedestrians and a cycleway,” she said.
But Chairman of the impending Sydney Super-Yacht Marina in Rozelle, Brian James said “a lot of money has got to be spent on it or has to come down”.
“It’s seriously in need of very serious maintenance,” he said. “The piles that support the bridge are absolutely stuffed.
“I’m not against the bridge, I’m against the bridge if it were to be left closed. It would decimate businesses around the bay and the Sydney Fish Market, the wharf maintenance people and boat people.”
Currently under assessment by the government, planning authorities will need to assess the flow of toxic water should the bridge be demolished. Rozelle Bay is known to hold some of the most toxic water in Sydney.
“Removing the bridge won’t affect anything, but if you remove the embankments that support the bridge then the bay would flush a lot more easily,” Mr James said.
“I’ve been told it’s the second-most contaminated bay in Sydney.”
Ms Stuart countered: “The pollution is extremely serious and to date there is no known method of cleaning them up. Why would you want to be flushing them out?”
The City of Sydney supports the retention of the bridge, with a Council spokeswoman arguing “the cost to refurbish to original condition rather than demolish is less than $10 million”.
“The bridge provides an essential low-level connection from the city to Glebe Island and White Bay for walking, cycling and potentially light rail,” she said.
“The Glebe Island Bridge has high economic value potential as a piece of low-level transport infrastructure. It allows vessels to pass under and through as well as being able to carry light rail, vehicles, cycles and pedestrians.”
A spokesperson for the Sydney Habour Foreshore Authority said a government decision on the bridge’s future will consider a report by The Bays Precinct Taskforce.