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A render of the new Circular Quay renewal
Render: NSW Government

NSW government teases plans for major upgrades to Circular Quay and Cahill Expressway

The proposal would see part of the major traffic artery that runs adjacent to Circular Quay transformed into a green space

Maxim Boon
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Maxim Boon
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The current NSW government is showing a major commitment to cementing a lasting legacy for Sydney with some large-scale development projects headlining its upcoming budget. Hot on the heels of the recent news that a $60-million 91km walkway will be created to connect the Sydney Opera House and Parramatta Park in the city’s west, details have emerged about a $216-million transformation of Circular Quay. Under the plans proposed by the Perrottet government, the ferry wharves and train station will receive major upgrades and a section of the Cahill Expressway will become a new green space in a similar fashion to New York’s High Line.

A major overhaul of Circular Quay to improve the facilities and aesthetics of Australia’s biggest tourist draw have been promised for years but given the current NSW government’s commitment to resuscitating Sydney's tourist economy, it looks likely that these plans could be the ones that actually break ground. However, the proposal is still several years from becoming a reality. The soon-to-be allotted funding will underwrite the initial design work, planning approvals and a community consultation process that will inform the final business decision.

A render of the new Circular Quay renewal
Render: NSW Government

One notable aspect of the latest vision for Circular Quay is the transformation of the Cahill Expressway into a green space. Premier Dominic Perrottet described the major traffic artery which feeds into the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a “scar” that “splits our amazing city from its best asset,” adding that “while we cannot get rid of it right now, I’m delighted we can enhance it in the meantime and create one of the world’s truly great walks.” This seems to confirm that the transformation of the Expressway will form part of the new 91km Circular Quay to Parramatta walking track. Earlier this year, the Expressway was temporarily repurposed as a pedestrian space to host a music and culture festival to ring in 2022.

Treasure Matt Kean said: “This renewal would create a more dynamic space for visitors and locals to enjoy new places to eat, drink and shop. We’re considering options to upgrade the wharves and revamp the train station to reaffirm Circular Quay as a key transport hub for Sydney.”

Prior to the pandemic, Sydney welcomed an average of 15 million visitors every year, with the vast majority flocking to Circular Quay to experience Australia’s most celebrated waterfront.

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