The rainbow road crossing in Sydney’s LGBT district, which was painted for the city’s 35th Mardi Gras celebrations, has been dug up, officials noting a safety hazard, despite a 15,000 strong petition to save it.

The crossing was installed in February on Oxford Street, a central part of Sydney’s gay community and a historic location for gay rights marches, to mark the city’s 35th Mardi Gras pride parade.

Almost 16,000 signatures were on the petition to save the crossing as of Wednesday, when work to remove it started.

The installation cost AUD$65,000 (£45,000). Officials had agreed to a one-month trial, with the possibility for keeping the crossing permanently, but today construction works began to remove it.

Officials announced that it would be dug up today for road safety reasons, and said it would cost a further $30,000 (£25,000) to have it removed.

The New South Wales roads minister, Duncan Gay, said: “This trial crossing was a gesture extended to Sydney’s gay and lesbian community to honour the 35th anniversary of Mardi Gras. But behaviour we have seen has set off alarm bells at the high risk of injuries and fatalities at this crossing, with more than 15 incidents in a month.”

The Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, said the crossing was ”a very powerful symbol to say Sydney is an inclusive city.”

“I’m incredibly disappointed that we’re going to have to spend $30,000 removing something that is a beautiful piece of public art and is very good for the local economy of the area,” she added.

In March around 15,000 people signed a petition started by Sydney MP Alex Greenwich asking Mr Gay to keep the crossing.

On Wednesday he again commented to say that the crossing should be left in place.

“I don’t think ripping up the rainbow crossing sends the right message,” he said

“It’s a really important sign of respect for the gay and lesbian community, and ripping it up sends the wrong message to the world about Sydney.”

Mr Gay said that he would support an “alternative permanent rainbow attraction” if the City of Sydney Council chose to create one off the roads.