Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street, in the heart of Melbourne’s art precinct, will be transformed into public parkland by late 2019.

The plan is to link the Domain Parklands to the Yarra River by halving the space allocated to cars and other vehicles along Southbank Boulevard.

This will make way for 2.5 hectares of new open space, including a civic square and a series of parks, as well as new bike lanes and a more accessible tram stop at Sturt Street.

Once major roads, Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street have experienced a dramatic decline in traffic over the past two decades. The City of Melbourne aims to turn the site into one of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in the city.

The $35 million venture will be tackled in stages. The area between St Kilda Road and Sturt Street will be the first to be closed to all road traffic when construction begins on Monday July 16. Trams and pedestrians will still have access during this time.

From September 22 to 30 a section of tram track will be closed.

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From October, construction will shift to the section between Sturt Street and City Road, with trams to resume normal operation.

Buses will be diverted to minimise disruptions to public transport users.

In order to complete the project, 87 trees will be cut down. A City of Melbourne bulletin advises that 300 new trees will be planted by the time construction is completed.

The project is expected to take 13 to 18 months to complete.

This project isn’t the only exciting development in the works for the precinct. In June, the Andrews government announced that Australia’s largest contemporary-art gallery – NGV Contemporary (NGVC) – will be built on Southbank Boulevard next to the Arts Centre.

You can explore the plans for the Southbank parkland here.