The $20 million City Centre Alive project - which officially opened on 6 September 2014 - aims to improve the flow of public transport and pedestrian movement, while bringing a vibrant tropical amenity into the CBD.
Around 200 native trees and palms line the roadway, which narrows into a pedestrian-friendly low-speed zone, creating a tropical ambience amid a bustling regional city.
"We wanted to bring people back into the city centre; to make it an attractive and welcoming place to shop, dine and interact for tourists and locals alike," Cairns Mayor Cr Bob Manning said.
"What we've created is a benchmark for tropical streetscape design that excels both aesthetically and in functionality."
New bus and taxi infrastructure has been purpose-built with additional lighting, seating and security cameras. The taxi rank opened in May and has been the subject of positive feedback from both taxi drivers and passengers.
The bus platforms – funded by the Queensland Government – opened for service on 8 September 2014.
"As a public transport hub, we want the area to be friendly, safe and accessible," Cr Manning said.
Capturing the essence of the tropics has been considered in every element. Interpretive panels and a series of pictures and words embedded in the footpath tell the story of the tropical seasons and local wildlife, as well as the history of Lake Street.
The new bus shelters reflect a "rainforest and reef" theming and even the state-of-the art public toilets are adorned with luminescent reef fish.
"There are details here and there that mean there is something to discover every time you visit," Cr Manning said. "It's the little things that really make this project unique."
Construction started in October 2013, initially focusing on the central and northern parts of the precinct. Pavers removed from the mall area have since been reused in suburban enhancement projects, reducing waste from the city precinct works.
Half a kilometre of street has been rebuilt from below ground up, including replacement of major water, sewer, gas and stormwater infrastructure, street lighting, coloured up-lighting and traffic signals.
Around 5700 square metres of footpath has been laid, along with 2500square metres of porphyry and 800 square metres of cobblestone. In some sections, footpaths have been widened from 4m to 11m.
Bicycle racks and drink stations have been added to encourage active travel within the CBD and additional lighting will boost safety in the precinct. Detailed way-finding signage has been installed to assist the region's two million visitors annually.
Car parking has also received an overhaul, with the introduction of free time-limited centre parking enforced via a new sensor-activated system that allows officers to receive an alert remotely when a vehicle has overstayed its permitted two hours.
An additional 28 parking spaces have been created in the high-demand area between Shields Street and Spence Street and extra off-street parking has been added to the Grafton Street parking station.
The street has been speed-limited at 30km/h to encourage safe integration of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and the narrow lanes, bollards and cobble pavement enforce the low-speed environment.
It is anticipated that more than 10,000 pedestrians will use the Lake Street crossing at Shields Street every day and the new bus platforms will cater to around 1.4 million passenger movements annually.
- 10,000+ pedestrians per day on average will use the crossing of Lake St at Shields St
- More than 60 bicycles per day on average park in the precinct
- Extensive areas of footpaths have been widened from 4m to up to 11m
- New speed limit of 30km/h and vehicle Lane widths from 3m to 3.7m
- Additional 28 on street car-parks created in the highest demand area Shields to Spence, with improved access to the Lake St multistorey carpark
- Additional 20 car spaces installed in the Grafton St off street carpark
- Free centre parking utilising new overstay technology to ensure turnover is maintained
- Half a kilometre of street has been rebuilt from below ground up
- 5700 square metres of footpath has been laid
- 800 square metres of cobbles
- 200 square metres of crazy pavement
- 2500 square metres of porphyry
- 900 cubic metres of soil has been laid for landscaping, plus 300 cubic metres of mulch
- Eight illuminated display panels have been installed
- 40 bench seats
- Six concrete benches
- 30 bins have been installed
- 31 ashtrays
- Three filtered water drink stations
- Nine bicycle racks
- Landscaping includes more than 4000 plants, 124 trees and 67 palms