The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) proposes that Franklin and A’Beckett streets be permanently closed, which the City of Melbourne opposes.
The MMRA proposes that one of the entrances to the new CBD North metro station be placed in the middle of Franklin St on the east side where it intersects with Swanston St. Emergency access structures are also proposed for Franklin St.
Franklin St was soon to be realigned through the Queen Victoria Market carpark to connect directly into Dudley St as part of the plan for the market redevelopment. As such, it would provide a more direct and alternative connection with Victoria St at the northern end of the CBD.
The City of Melbourne is resisting the closure and is proposing an alternative location for the station entrance to block only the southern side of the street.
The council believes it can accommodate through traffic, station entrance, emergency access structures as well as landscaping to create a previously-promised “academic street” for RMIT.
Under the MMRA proposal, the section of Franklin St east of Swanston St would become a pedestrian zone.
In its response to the MMRA’s EES, the council says: “While the creation of new pedestrian and open space areas is generally supported and encouraged, Franklin St currently provides an important local vehicle access to the northern section of the city.”
“It is submitted that the MMRP EES concept design should be modified to provide for a more flexible operational layout and to continue to provide local vehicle access without comprising any future decisions for the layout of the street.”
“It is understood that a functional layout can be achieved by moving the station entrance and other infrastructure towards the south side of the street. This would also allow for a widened footpath area with substantial tree planting and allows for the potential of this landscaped avenue treatment being continued for the length of Franklin St to the Queen Victoria Market.”
The MMRA plan also closes permanently A’Beckett St at Swanston St. While the council originally supported this proposal, it has come to realise that this would prevent vehicles entering Little LaTrobe St.
The MMRA plan is further complicated by the expected demand for footpath space from a new station entrance here, and the council proposes to widen Swanston St footpaths between LaTrobe and Little LaTrobe streets isolating this area from vehicular traffic.
In A’Beckett St, the council wants station infrastructure to be located on one side to allow access for one lane of traffic at Swanston St. It further proposes to restrict traffic here to one way only (travelling in a westerly direction).
In its response document, the council says: “This would still allow for an improved pedestrian environment and open space opportunities. The traffic flow in Little LaTrobe St could be reversed to flow in an easterly direction so that vehicle access to properties is maintained.”
“This would enable the closure of the portion of Swanston St between LaTrobe St and Little LaTrobe St to vehicle traffic and for the continuation of the layout of Swanston St from the south side of LaTrobe St to the northern side.”