Update on the North Rd - McKinnon Rd - Centre Rd grade separations.
First, a comment on the impact on Traders. More gossip from the local traders indicates that, as you would expect, very patchy impact. One trader indicates no impact whatsoever, despite being very close to the level crossing. His neighbours have made no money for three weeks. A big influence, of course, is the type of business. Traders dependent on commuter traffic are starving with the closure of the station. As you would expect, almost no commuters walk toward or through the shopping centre with the closure of the station.
A bunch of traders just west of the level crossing in Bentleigh put up suspiciously professional looking posters attacking Daniel Andrews, apparently about the level crossing removal. The most recent issue of the local paper, however, published a letter attacking these traders. The letter stated that the level crossing removal was of long term benefit to the locals, and that the trader she patronised (and who had a poster) had told her that he hadn't lost any trade. She further stated that, until he removed it, she was going to go to one of his competitors. Most of the posters have subsequently been removed.
The most positive spin of this is that there is a real tension in the community about the short term pain/long term benefit of the level crossing removal. A more negative view is that politicians are playing games.
Second, I remember promises made at the beginning about a revolutionary new silent piling method. These seem to have been forgotten about, and most of the piling is being done using a very noisy piling rig.
Three method of piling have been used so far. Work started using CFA piling in which the piles were cast in situ. This has been used on both sides under the roadways and where the station buildings will go (i.e. load bearing areas). On the eastern side, it was also used around the station boxes (where the cutting will be deepest), and between North Road and Elster Creek. On the western side, however, it is different. Most of the western side of the Bentleigh box uses sheet piling, and no stretches have been done outside the station boxes after the very first section. While some of this may be due to different ground conditions, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the CFA piling was too slow/expensive for general use.
The second piling system was using sheet piles driven under hydraulic pressure with an inbuilt auger to loosen the soil. This method has the advantage of being feasible close to property boudaries. This has been used for the eastern and western stretches between Elster Ck (Murray Rd) and the McKinnon station box, the eastern section south of McKinnon Rd, and the final section south of Centre Rd to the end of the cutting near Brewer Rd. This method is also essentially silent, but is also slow.
The final method uses sheet piles, also driven under hydraulic pressure, but assists the driving using high frequency vibrations. A 'resonator' is clamped to the top of the sheet pile and it vibrates the pile as it is pushed into the earth. A separate, simple, auger is used in advance of the driving to loosen the earth. Needless to say, this is noisy. I live about a kilometer away from the work, on the other side of a ridge, and it is loud enough to be annoying. It would be quite unpleasant to be close to the work. It is, however, fast.
So, to the actual work done over the past week or so.
The big pile of earth in the EE Gunn reserve (north of Ormond) has been removed. It seems some of this earth may have been used to make working areas for piling. A quick glance from the train yesterday suggests that the fenced area of the reserve has been massively increased.
No piling work appears to have been done yet on the western side north or south of Ormond station, but the CFA piling rig has been working on the Ormond station box. A lot of work has been done immediately north of Ormond levelling and clearing the piling site. On the east side, work has continued on casting the beam at the top of the cast in situ piles.
South of Elster Ck (Murray Rd) sheet piling has been driven on the west side, starting about 150m south of Murray Rd and ending at the McKinnon station box. The compact piling rig was relocated just to the south of McKinnon Road at the beginning of the week. CFA piling has been continuing on the western side of the McKinnon station box. Until now, work has been undertaken in the former car park, but the rig has just been moved north to work behind the private properties (plenty of room as this was where the station platform was).
South of McKinnon Rd a long stretch of sheet piling has been nearly completed west of the line, running from just north of Elster Ck to just south of public toilets. A significant portion of this was driven before the big shut, and, last Sunday, one of the vibrating piling machines was driven up Nicholson St to continue the work. To prevent the tracks damaging the road surface, very large sheets of plastic were used between the tracks and the road (think very industrial versions of office mats). A large team moved the sheets from behind the machine as it move to in front of the tracks. The compact sheet piling machine was relocated during the week to just north of the public toilets at McKinnon, and will pile the tight bit behind the level crossing control boxes towards McKinnon Rd. The south pedestrian crossing at McKinnon Rd has been closed (again) to allow this to occur.
I'm still trying to work out what they are doing at Elster Ck near the substation. As previously noted, a large horizontal drilling machine is in use here. It appears to be drilling at an angle of about 30-40 degrees from the horizontal, and at a shallow angle under the line. The drill strand is about 10cm in diameter, and initial great pile of drill lengths has dwindled down to a few. It's not clear whether they have drilled one hole (with the lengths remaining in the hole), or one very long hole.
Work is being undertaken inside the substation building, but what is not clear.
A very long stretch of sheet piling has been driven on the west side from about the Bentleigh station buildings north and it has now nearly reached the substation. Two piling rigs have been used in this section, but one was moved (to McKinnon), and the remaining piling rig is quite small (obviously the piles get shallower as they move towards Elster Ck).
The CFA piling at Bentleigh (the south end of the station box from about the station buildings to Centre Rd) appears to have been completed. The piling rig was being dismantled on Wednesday and has now been removed. Work has commenced on digging out the soil around the tops of the piles before starting work on casting the beams. As at Ormond, work has continued on the eastern side of the line concreting the beams at the top of the piles.
Bentleigh station toilets have a notice on them saying that the toilets will be closed as from late April. A portable toilet is being erected at the south end of the station building. The sign directs patrons to the station toilets at Moorabbin or Caulfield, the public toilets in Bent St Bentleigh, or an accessible toilet at the station.
Work continues on the syphon south of Centre Rd, but it's hard to see exactly what they are doing.
Little work seems to have been done piling on the western side of the line south of Centre Rd, although an auger has been set up. I'd suspect the vibrating piler from McKinnon will be moved down here when McKinnon has been completed.