By Asa Wahlquist, Glebe Society Representative on the  Sydney Fish Market Community Consultative Committee. Bulletin May 2023, 3/2023

Construction underway in Blackwattle Bay. Image:

Work is expected to begin at the end of April to raise Bridge Rd by one metre alongside the new Sydney Fish Market. Traffic along Bridge Rd will be reduced to two lanes, and cyclists and pedestrians will share the footpath. The work is expected to take 28 to 30 weeks.

Infrastructure NSW (iNSW) states that the raising of Bridge Rd ‘is being undertaken to ensure the bus, coach, taxi, Uber, Kiss and Go drop-off bay that will sit between Bridge Rd and the new Sydney Fish Market promenade can be accessed at grade, in other words, at the same level as the new promenade’. 

Most public and private buildings, like hotels, manage with a ‘drop- off’ area on the same level of the road, with a couple of steps and an accessibility ramp up to the building. The iNSW website also lists providing ‘visual integration’ with Wentworth Park, assisting in managing stormwater, allowing localised widening of Bridge Rd, and ‘improved north-south visibility’. 

The plans were outlined to the Sydney Fish Market Community Consultative Committee (CCC). Most of the community representatives raised questions about the necessity to raise the road, the impact on traffic, the risk of increased flooding where the raised road tapers off, and the impact on the magnificent Moreton Bay figs in Wentworth Park alongside the road.

The Glebe Society considers the reasons offered by iNSW are all inadequate, given the months of disruptions to users of the most important arterial road through Glebe that they will cause.

So what is the real reason?

One member of the CCC, who questioned the widening at a community drop-in session, was told Bridge Rd was being raised so the basement car park can fit under the building without resting on the bottom of the Bay. He was told that having an ‘on-water’ fish market (that is not resting on the harbour floor) negated any argument from the community that there was a land grab occurring (filling in the Bay). Under the approved plans, the base of the building will be suspended above the floor of the Bay, just below mean sea level. This would mean water flows underneath it most of the time. Why the building could not just be built on the floor of the Bay is a question the CCC is waiting to have answered.


Under the plan there will be a basement car park with capacity for 417 cars. The car park will be 3.5 metres high, to cater for “small rigid vehicles”, basically vans and small trucks.

Bridge Rd is at the end of a large catchment, extending from Central Station, east to the city and west to Glebe. Flooding can occur after heavy rain, particularly at the junction of Bridge Rd and Wentworth Park Rd.  The raised road will be highest in the middle, tapering down to the current level at Wentworth Park Rd and Wattle St.

Flooding on Bridge Rd in November 2018. Photo: Edwin Smith

When I asked, at the last CCC, whether raising Bridge Rd would actually increase flooding at the junction of Bridge Rd and Wentworth Park Rd, the Committee was assured engineering works would drain it adequately. The question arises, if engineering can reduce flooding at the ends of a raised road, why hasn’t it been able to reduce flooding while it is flat? Raising the road to reduce flooding doesn’t pass the pub test.

Currently, there are two lanes each way on Bridge Rd with footpaths on either side. Cyclists, who have been encouraged to use the temporary bike path further along Bridge Rd, ride along the road.  Under the plan to raise Bridge Rd, during the first stage there will be one lane each way in the centre of the road, while the outer lanes are raised. Then there will be one lane each way on the outside of the road, while the centre is raised. Cyclists and pedestrians will share the footpath, which will be wider than the current one.

The footpaths on either side will also be raised, pedestrian crossing lights will be installed at the junction of Wentworth Park Rd and Bridge Rd, and services beneath the road will be moved. The whole process is expected to take 28 to 30 weeks.

Community representative John Faulkner asked about the impact of the works on the avenue of Moreton Bay figs in Wentworth Park, adjacent to the road. The meeting was assured that, because the road was being raised, there would be no impact on the roots of the trees, however some branches hanging over the road will need to be trimmed. The State Significant Development Assessment Report said the pruning will ‘generally be limited to approximately 2-4%, with some trees requiring up to 10% of the total volume of the tree to be pruned’.