Allowing access across the rail line at Gipps Street in North Wollongong would improve pedestrian safety, the walkability of the city and reduce traffic congestion, Wollongong City councillor George Takacs said.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Cr Takacs put forward a motion calling on council to write to the NSW government to highlight the need for pedestrian and cyclist access across the train line that now cuts Gipps Street in two.
He said the form it would take would be left open for the government to decide but he felt a bridge was the most likely option.
There was once a level crossing at the site, which was closed more than two decades ago when Throsby Drive was opened.
Since then the level crossing has been fenced off and no access - vehicular or otherwise - is possible.
Cr Takacs said the lack of access meant pedestrians from North Wollongong had to travel across Throsby Drive to get to Beaton Park and suburbs like Gywnneville and Keiraville.
If they chose to walk, that is. He said a longer route would encourage them to use the car.
‘‘What I’m looking for around the city is places people might be walking if they had a more direct route to follow,’’ Cr Takacs said.
‘‘In the centre of the city, the most densely populated area we’ve got in Wollongong is the Smith’s Hill area and one of our major traffic generators is Beaton Park and what’s separating them at present is this railway line.
‘‘If the route people would go on foot is sufficiently inconvenient, then they won’t go on foot they’ll drive.
‘‘We could get people fitter, reduce traffic congestion, reduce parking problems just by identifying a few key missing links and putting them in. This is one of them.’’
Cr Takacs pointed out that students at Smith’s Hill High School heading to Beaton Park have to cross the road five times - including four lanes of traffic at the Gilligan’s Island roundabout.
‘‘If this bridge existed, they’d cross the road twice,’’ Cr Takacs.
‘‘Once at a pedestrian crossing right next to the school., once at a signallised crossing at Flinders and Gipps street. Then they could walk over the bridge and then into Beaton Park. Also, they’d walk about 40 per cent of the distance of the current route.’’
Cr Takacs added that the recently approved $40 million 160-apartment block for the corner of Flinders and Gipps streets, increased the need for access across the rail line.
His initial motion was modified on the floor of council to also canvass the options of re-introducing pedestrian access along the northern side of Throsby Drive or enlarging the underpass linking Smith and Denison streets.
But he believed a bridge, similar to those over the F6 at Figtree and across Memorial Drive at Corrimal, is the best option.
‘‘There will be 10 times as many people using it as those other bridges,’’ he said.