BY TESSA BAJAN
The Moonee Valley council and its residents claim popular Essendon hangout Rose Street will be destroyed by proposed level crossing removal plan, threatening traders and local business along the strip.
The state government plans to relocate busy Buckley street to beneath the railway line, transforming Rose street into a one way only road with no right turning.
Resultantly shoppers will have less parking options along the strip, and if coming off Buckley Street, will need to continue on until they can perform a u-turn. An inconvenience local traders claim will lose them their customer base.
Local resident and business owner of popular “Benny & Me” café Ellen McFarlane is concerned about her customer base and feels that the design lacks safety. “A car trench crossing will provide no benefits to the local community. What is now a thriving area will become a danger zone most will try to avoid.”
The community claims that the proposal also lacks disability, cycling and pedestrian access and is a danger to pedestrians and children from nearby schools.
Dr John Stone, Lecturer in Transport Planning in Urban Planning Program at Melbourne University confirmed Mcfarlane’s concerns in a report that states “grade separations that involve putting railway above or below rail line can actually degrade other aspects of the physical, social and economic environment.. this can have negative impacts on immediately adjacent economic activity, that are very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify.”
The Essendon community has proposed an alternate “road over rail” option they claim is better for the community instead of the government’s plan that has been labelled a “cheap, quick fix”.
The community took to the streets last Sunday in a public demonstration along Buckley street. The protest included appearances by opposition MP David Hodgett and Moonee Valley Mayor Andrea Surace, in which they re-affirmed their strong alliance with the community. State labour MP Danny Pearson was noticeably absent.
Rail design engineer Andrew Binns however believes the lobbyists have not put enough thought into the technical aspects of their proposed alternative. “For the road over rail plan to be successful, the gradient of the rail way line that is currently on a slight hill will need to be completely altered for a slow decline underground; an extremely costly development that would require acquisition of over ten homes.”
“This slow decline would require a trench, which are in most cases, an eyesore.”
Despite community backlash, Pearson confirmed plans are still going ahead, proclaiming “this is a done deal” to the disgust of the hall at a council meeting in Essendon.
The contract to to remove the Buckley Street Level Crossing was awarded May 7 to be completed by 2019, however the community plans to continue the fight.