The biggest effort by a government to remove dangerous level crossings in Victoria’s history will start in Mitcham, Premier Ted Baillieu announced today.
The Victorian Coalition Government’s 2011-12 Budget provides funding to begin removing ten of Melbourne’s worst level crossings, starting with notorious congestion hotspots in Mitcham and Springvale.
Speaking at Mitcham Railway Station with Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder and Liberal Member for Mitcham Dee Ryall, Mr Baillieu said the Coalition Government was delivering on its commitment to eliminating Melbourne’s worst level crossings, particularly in areas with high train and vehicle numbers.
"One of our key commitments to Victorian families was a $379 million blitz on metropolitan rail crossings and these two crossings at Mitcham and Nunawading will be among the first to go," Mr Baillieu said.
"Under our plan, the boom gates at two of Melbourne’s most notorious rail level crossings – Mitcham Road at Mitcham and Rooks Road at Nunawading – will come down for the last time by late 2014.
"At Mitcham Road alone, about 22,000 vehicles pass through the level crossing each day, together with more than 200 train services."
Mr Baillieu said the combined Mitcham and Rooks Road rail crossing project will also include new and improved facilities for rail patrons, with Mitcham Railway Station being upgraded as part of the works.
The Budget makes an initial commitment of $16.5 million for planning work on level crossing removal, with major construction work to be funded by 2013 once detailed design is completed.
This development work will allow for engineering studies and consultation to identify preferred options, as well as the development and approval of business cases to ensure the project’s full costs and scope are known before construction begins.
"The Coalition Government has identified ten of our busiest level crossings where high train and traffic volumes are creating major congestion for the rail and road system.
"These notorious hotspots also have a high potential for crashes involving trains and vehicles or pedestrians on the level crossing."
The level crossing at Springvale Road, Springvale will also be removed within the Coalition Government’s first term. The Budget provides funding for accelerated design and the start of pre-construction work at the Mitcham and Springvale sites over the next 12 months, with both projects to be completed in 2014.
The Budget also provides funding for planning the removal of level crossings at Mountain Highway and Scoresby Road, Bayswater, North Road, Ormond, Blackburn Road, Blackburn and Burke Road, Glen Iris. The Coalition has also identified Main Road, St Albans, and Murrumbeena Road, Murrumbeena as priority projects.
"Fixing these level crossings will ease congestion for the hundreds of thousands of motorists and train users who must travel through these level crossings every day," Mr Baillieu said.
"The extra train services being added every year as a result of the 40 new trains funded by the Coalition Government will increase the amount of time boom gates are down at key locations.
"This makes the Coalition’s plan to eradicate our worst level crossings and ease congestion on the road and rail network even more important."
Liberal Member for Mitcham Dee Ryall said the number of trains running through Mitcham will increase with growing demand for train services on the Lilydale and Belgrave lines and new trains being funded by the Coalition Government.
"While it is important to get on with the job now to ease congestion and improve safety, an intensive planning and community consultation process will help to minimise the impact of the works on the community and develop the best arrangements for pedestrians, car parking and connecting bus services," Ms Ryall said.
"Eliminating the Mitcham Road and Rooks Road crossings will provide an immediate boost to the local economy and will deliver long-term improvements in road and public transport efficiency."
VicRoads will now begin detailed planning and community consultation to determine the best design solution for separating road and rail traffic.
Detailed plans for the road and rail improvements will be released when available for consultation with the local community and stakeholders, including Whitehorse Council, public transport users and Mitcham businesses.