The great grade
As Victorians go to the polls this weekend, one of the differences between the two major parties is in how they intend to deal with a major headache for Melbourne motorists and indeed the productivity of the city – the curse of the level crossing.
Even way back in 2006 when the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission estimated the impact on productivity of traffic congestion, their figures suggested the cost to the economy was up to $2.6 billion and set to double by 2020.
Of course there are multiple factors which impact the increasing congestion and the consequent costs including the growing population, ageing and out of date infrastructure, and inadequate public transport. There is no easy fix.
Labor goes into Saturday’s election promising to remove 50 of the 180 crossings which blight the morning and afternoon peak. In fact it has nominated 40 already for grade separation with more to come. Their costing of $5-6 billion is certainly being questioned but the intention is there to help improve the traffic flow for both traffic and public transport users.
The Coalition is promising “40 level crossing removals and grade separations to improve safety and relieve congestion for motorists, pedestrians and commuters”.
The grade separations required to help ease congestion can be done in three ways: 1. road over rail, 2. rail under road (definitely the preference to maintain the character and amenity of the area) or 3. a combination of the first two approaches.
These grade separations would not only improve the flow of traffic and all important safety, but they would also improve the amenity for cyclists, make the area more pedestrian friendly and enhance the public realm and movement into and out of stations.
The recent Malvern Road/Bourke Road grade separation project for Stonnington City Council in Melbourne’s east is a great example. David Lock Associates is engaged by the City of Stonnington to complete an Urban Design Analysis and prepare an Urban Design Framework for the Malvern Road – Burke Road Neighbourhood Activity Centre and the land created by the grade separation. DLA consulted with the local community as part of the process of providing options. Further, the UDF is being developed through a collaborative design process, including discussions and workshops with Council officers and other key stakeholders including the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure, VicRoads, VicTrack, Yarra Trams and Office of the Victorian Government Architect.
Only 49 to go! Or is that 180?