Department of Infrastructure Transport
One of South Australia’s most important transport corridors was brought to life, fusing urban design with inspiration from Indigenous nature and bird species that utilise the wetlands.
The $867 million Northern Connector is a six-lane, 15.5km motorway providing a vital freight and commuter link between the Northern Expressway, South Road Superway and Port River Expressway. Visually, it acts as an important transition between the rural character of the northern suburbs and the more urban character of the surrounding suburbs and commercial area.
As both the Urban and Landscape designers for the bridge, active transport networks and landscape integration, Tract drew contextual inspiration from the Indigenous nature of Barker’s Inlet, the surrounding market gardens, salt pans and crystalline forms, as well as the habitat of the RAMSAR-listed migratory bird species. These are represented in the forms of the bridges, the abutment walls, screens and the Indigenous planting palette.
Degraded land was reinstated into intertidal wetlands, – contributing to the future sustainability of the area – while a series of linked swales and landscapes elevated the ecological diversity of the site and added valuable wildlife corridors.
The planting along the Northern Connector is subtle and responsive to existing landscapes, complementing and merging with the patterning of the local agricultural, coastal and intertidal settings. It provides occasional points of emphasis and opportunities to take in views, creating an experience of progression while moving through the landscapes.
Bridge structures and overpasses create distinct locations throughout the corridor, which highlight arrival points for Adelaide along the way.
Meanwhile, the alignment of the Northern Connector shared use path joins the Stuart O’Grady Bikeway, providing a dedicated cycle and pedestrian path linking metropolitan Adelaide via on-road cycleways from the Outer Harbor Greenway system to the Southern Interchange, all the way to Gawler.