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THE $588 million Mernda rail extension has divided opinion after the State Government revealed designs showing part of the track will be elevated.
The designs show the extension will be raised for the potential Hawkstowe station and rail bridges will be built over The Parkway and Simon Creek and Bridge Inn Rd.
But Yan Yean state Labor MP Danielle Green told the Whittlesea Leader the Government was open to changes if they fell within budgetary limits.
“As far as the geotechnical, flora and fauna studies, that’s (elevated rail) what the Level Crossing Authority have put forward to the market,” Ms Green said.
“But certainly they’re very open to innovation. If an engineering solution comes up that would propose a different solution that is within budget, we’re certainly open to that.”
South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance spokesman Darren Peters said community consultation for the past 10 months had shown most residents wanted the rail to go underground.
How Marymede station will look.“I’m certain that people who have been coming to the consultations and have submitted their thoughts online are going to be very upset,” Mr Peters said.
“The great majority of people wanted the railway to go under at Hawkstowe and the railway to go under at Mernda.
“I expect there is going to be a backlash from the community.”
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said parts of the line needed to be elevated so as not to create more level crossings.
An overhead map of the Mernda rail line extension.Level Crossing Authority chief executive Kevin Devlin said groundwater in the area was just below the surface and the ground was made up of hard basalt rock, which was difficult to excavate.
Mr Peters welcomed the latest stage of the project, but said the Government needed to release diagrams showing that it was impossible to go underground.
“So that the community can understand how far below the ground the bedrock and water table are so that it is definitively proven that it cannot happen,” Mr Peters said.
Trains will run on a mix of elevated, ground level and underground tracks on the Mernda rail line extension.“I’m sure residents understand that there is a high water table and there is a lot of bedrock, but if the investigation is going on, we must find out how much it is going to cost for both options.
“I would like the studies released so the public … can make up their own minds.”
Mr Peters said he was surprised the Government was not asking the companies applying for the tender to cost elevated and below-ground options.
“We need to find out what the cost of both options are,” he said.
“People don’t want a rail bridge in front of their houses.”
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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