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A TREE believed to be more than 100 years old will likely be felled to make way for a pedestrian underpass at Marion Railway Station.
The river red gum is one of 23 significant trees along the track, between Warradale and Edwardstown, expected to be felled as part of works to electrify the rail line.
The underpass plan has angered residents living near the train line, who say most of the trees could have been saved if an existing overpass had been upgraded. They also fear the underpass, which will be 4m wide and 30m long, will be unsafe at night.
The underpass is planned for 180m north of the existing overpass, near Alison Ave.
Marion resident Geoff Wells learnt of the plan at a State Government community meeting about the rail upgrade at Westminster School last week.
"I'm not sure (the State Government) could have come up with a design that has greater impact on the trees that are left alongside the rail line if they had tried," Mr Wells said.
A street corner meeting will be held this Saturday (July 6) for residents to have their say on the plan.
"The decision to replace the overpass with an underpass has ignited a lot of anger in people - particularly given earlier assurances from (the department) that every effort would be made to conserve as many trees as possible."
The underpass will have a 74m long ramp up to the platform and include 45m long ramps to Farne and Minchinbury terraces.
Mr Wells, of Abbeville Tce, is calling on the State Government to develop an alternative plan, such as an upgraded overpass.
"We've been presented with a single option and it maximises tree removal," he said.
"Here at Marion we don't have an eyesore (along the rail line), we have a leafy skyline and an established wildlife corridor created and maintained by residents over generations."
Minchinbury Tce resident Samantha Kerr said the loss of trees would alter the street's character "quite dramatically".
She said many of the trees along the corridor were planted 60 years ago by local residents to beautify the area.
"Some of those residents still live here and consider them their trees," she said.
Bassi St resident Milton Howard was among a group of locals to help plant trees along the rail line in the '60s.
He said the 100-year-old gum was a "landmark" of the street.
"Coming home from a holiday interstate you knew you were home when you saw the big tree," he said.
Mr Howard said the character of the area would be changed if the trees were felled.
"We also have a wonderful birdlife here.
"At sunset all the birds are squawking like you're in the country."
A Marion Council spokeswoman said the council was working with the State Government to "maximise replanting opportunities" to compensate the loss of trees and vegetation.
A Transport Department spokeswoman said the department was working to "mitigate the removal of trees and identify opportunities to replant vegetation".
She said it was still unknown exactly how many trees would face the axe, but it would be determined by design, engineering, environmental constraints and safety.
Feedback would be sought on design options and landscaping, she said.
Work on the underpass is expected to start in July and be completed by October.
A State Government information brochure said the existing overpass, built about 50 years ago, would need "extensive screening and structural modifications at a substantial cost" before it would be able to accommodate the electrification requirements.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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