Old railroads are all the rage when it comes to adaptive reuse. New York City kicked off the trend with its High Line park, which officially opened to the public last year. Now we’ve got Chicago’s long-anticipated rails-to-trails park system, the Bloomingdale Trail, set for completion in 2014, with plans for a smaller-scale but similar project being kicked around in Milwaukee. In London, city officials are contemplating the creation of a mushroom farm in the old, unused railroad tunnels beneath the city — and in Philly, officials are considering a subterranean addition to Reading Viaduct park, which will transform a stretch of the old Reading Railroad line into a pedestrian-friendly park and trail.
But if you need any proof that the 21st century reclamation of the 19th century’s big innovation in transport is a global phenomenon at this point, look no further than The Goods Line, Sydney’s take on New York’s High Line, part of its Ultimo Pedestrian Network (UPN).
Architecture And Design Australia reports that Aspect Studios and Choi Ropiha Fighera have been selected by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority to design and deliver the park, which will be built on the 500 meters (around 1640 feet) of industrial railway track that divides Ultimo from Haymarket. The walkway will sit four meters (around 13 feet) above street level and will improve access for pedestrians and cyclists from the Railway Square bus and train interchange into the southwest corner of Darling Harbour.
Back in May, a plan was submitted to the City of Sydney by David Vago from Habitation that would extend this high line/rails-to-trails concept to Sydney’s soon-to-be-scrapped monorail line. This mass transit system — which has been characterized as “doomed and unprofitable” — would form the the basis of a walkway Vago dubbed the ‘Highlane.’ The proposal for this green walkway features cafes, gallery space and cultural walks, and was conceived of as providing an easy route for commuters, the disabled and tourists through the city.
There’s been no word on whether Sydney will move forward with that plan as well, but work on The Goods Line is expected to begin next June — pending approval from the City of Sydney Council — and to be complete by the end of 2013. The Powerhouse Museum, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, TAFE – Sydney Institute (an institution of technical/higher education), the City of Sydney Council, and Infrastructure NSW (a regional development agency) and the University of Technology Sydney will all have a direct investment in the project.
Is the Goods Line reminiscent of that other elevated-railway-turned-park-and-trail project in the U.S.? Sure, said Sydney’s Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard. He went on record to the Sydney Morning Herald as saying, ”I think it’s fair to say it’s Sydney’s version of the New York High Line.”