Sunday, 19 July 2015

1999: Frank Sartor & the Cross City Tunnel

In 1999, planning was underway for the Cross City Tunnel. Sydney City Council was led by Lord Mayor Frank Sartor.

At the time, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) had proposed a 1.6 kilometre tunnel to run under the city from the intersection of Druitt and Kent Streets through to the Eastern Distributor with portals linking through to William Street. Motorists would pay a $2 toll.

Cross City Tunnel April 13 1999 daily telegraph 15

Source: Skelsey, M. 1999. "Digging deeper: Sartor pushes $140m city tunnel extension". The Daily Telegraph, April 13, 15.

Frank Sartor commissioned a study to determine whether it should be extended further. Leading architects, Donald Crone, Harry Seidler and Phillip Cox proposed extending it through the eastern end of the Kings Cross Tunnel at Rushcutters Bay. This would also allow the council to fulfil their decades long vision of turning William Street into a pedestrian boulevard.

In September that year, the tunnel was extended to Kings Cross end of the Kings Cross Tunnel with a $2.50 toll. Three years later, the final route extended it further east to the Rushcutters Bay end of the Kings Cross Tunnel.

As for the boulevard, the opening of the tunnel in 2005 led to an attempt to reduce the number of lanes on William Street. This failed when traffic stayed away from the tunnel due to the initial $3.56 toll. William Street still carries large traffic volumes. As for council, that vision for William Street, remains a vision.