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TAXPAYERS could be slugged more than $5 million to upgrade a suburban railway crossing, despite it being ranked 223rd on the state's most dangerous list.
The decision to propel the historic New St level crossing in Brighton ahead of scores of other crossings in desperate need of fixing has outraged the opposition and public transport advocates.
Local MP Louise Asher last week revealed work on new electronic boom gates at Brighton would begin within six months.
The manually operated gates at the 120-year-old crossing have been closed to traffic since an accident in 2007.
Although Ms Asher declined to say how much the work would cost, documents obtained under Freedom of Information by the State Opposition reveal the government has already spent $2 million on planning.
A departmental briefing sent to Transport Minister Terry Mulder on March 25 last year, estimated the cost of installing electronic boom gates combined with changes to roads around the crossing, are estimated at a further $3 million.
Shadow transport spokeswoman Fiona Richardson said the decision was an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money.
"It says a lot about this Liberal Government that they would waste millions of taxpayers' dollars at a crossing in Brighton ahead of hundreds of other crossings considered more dangerous and more congested," she said.
"This decision is a poke in the eye for the rest of us who sit and wait at more congested and dangerous crossings right around the state."
Alternate plans for an underpass beneath the rail line costing more than $10 million were shelved due to cost and complexity.
Restoring the original manually operated gates have also been ruled out due to safety reasons.
Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen also slammed the decision to prioritise work at Brighton.
"This crossing is hardly used by anyone and it's way down the priority list," he said.
"There are any number of other important public transport upgrades this money could be spent on."
Transport Minister Terry Mulder however defended the decision.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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