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The decommissioned Glebe Island Bridge could be the key to the redevelopment of Sydney's Bays Precinct amid calls for it to be re-opened.
The redevelopment of the precinct has been stalled since plans by the State Government to open a technology hub at the White Bay Power Station fell through last year.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne and Shadow Heritage Minister Penny Sharpe are spearheading a campaign to redevelop the area with an emphasis on reopening the bridge as a means of transport for commuters from Rozelle to the CBD.
In 2015, former NSW premier Mike Baird announced the government wanted the White Bay power station at Rozelle to be turned into an international technology hub with Google as a foundation tenant.
"The government promised us an Australian Silicon Valley in White Bay. Three years on, the Bays Precinct is nothing but an empty concrete cavern," Mr Byrne said.
It is believed a lack of transport and access to the area is a contributing factor in delays to the redevelopment.
The reopening of the bridge will benefit Glebe and means the whole area will be more accessible
If the bridge was reactivated, it could serve as a walking and cycling connection, years after it was closed to traffic.
The 112-year-old electrically operated swing bridge has been in the open position for the past decade, allowing boats to pass from Blackwattle and Rozelle bays into Sydney Harbour.
Transport for NSW wrote to the then Leichhardt Council in 2016 confirming it was considering refurbishing the bridge as part of the Bays Precinct plan but nothing has been done over the past two years. Vessels would still be able to use the swing bridge through a system of managed maritime access.
Glebe Historical Society president Allan Hogan and transport convenor Murray Jewell stand in solidarity with the Inner West Council’s calls to reopen the bridge.
“The reopening of the bridge will benefit Glebe and means the whole area will be more accessible and will eventually lead to a more favourable development of the Rozelle Bay area,” Mr Jewell said.
The Glebe Society supports sustainable travel options that don't harm the environment.
The bridge’s ideal 10 minute commute to the CBD from Rozelle would fit with the society's preferred transport outcomes.
“The reopening of the Glebe Island Bridge, one of Sydney’s great heritage assets, to pedestrians and cyclists, as well as building a new ferry wharf or light rail extension, is all that is required to bring Google to White Bay,” Mr Byrne said.
Google’s plans to set up at the railway yards in Redfern were recently rejected, running the risk for Sydney that the tech giant may relocate interstate.
“It’s now time to act before it’s too late and the potential for jobs and investment is lost to Melbourne,” Ms Sharpe said.
"There is a lot of conflicting interests with the government in redevelopment of Rozelle Bay and part of that is the interest of the WestConnex tollway which is going to impact on that area and seems to have some priority from the government," Mr Jewell said.
Mr. Hogan said the bridge was a case of “demolition by neglect” and if restored “can play an effective ongoing role in helping to manage Sydney’s transport difficulties.”
The InnerWest Council hopes to reopen negotiations with the government concerning the Glebe Island Bridge and the benefits it will have for making the Bay's Precinct accessible to the public.