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JOBS will be lost and small businesses will crumble as two years of construction chaos begins on the controversial sky rail project.
Traders near Murrumbeena station have told the Herald Sun they fear their businesses will be crippled when the area is turned into a staging ground for the $1.6 billion project.
Major construction works begin next month to remove nine level crossings with 8km of elevated tracks on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.
Several train station carparks will be closed and turned into work sites until the project is finished in 2018, including in Murrumbeena, where two gantry cranes weighing 230 tonnes each will be installed.
Billy 1 Motors, a car repair business on Neerim Rd, will be demolished in coming weeks as part of the works.
Bill Karisson, who has run the business for 28 years, said he had been given just three months’ notice of the decision. He said he was not offered compensation because he had been leasing the land.
“I can’t think, I’m really p---ed off,” Mr Karisson said.
“I thought I was going to get some money, at least to pay for the rent I’m paying.”
Up the road, Peter Doyle said he would be forced to close Aladdin Drycleaners, the shop he had owned for 45 years.
“I’ll just have to shut the door and go and get a pension,” Mr Doyle said. “Where are people going to park if they shut all the carparks?”
“You can’t hang on for (two years), not even six months ... That’s the end of it.”
Peter Doyle in his dry-cleaning shop. Picture: Ian CurrieColin Attwood, whose father took charge of Murrumbeena newsagency in 1965, said he was worried his older customers would go elsewhere if they could not park in their local shopping strip.
“I’m very concerned. Construction’s going to be an enormous problem for us in terms of access for customers,” Mr Attwood said.
“A lot of them are fairly elderly and they drive, that’s the only way they can get down.”
Colin Attwood outside his newsagency in Murrumbeena. Picture: Ian Currie.Mr Attwood said traders deserved compensation if they lost business during construction, but that had been ruled out by the Government.
Another shop owner, who asked not to be named, said he feared he would have to lay off most of his staff to keep his business alive until the project was completed in 2018.
Premier Daniel Andrews said “the best modern construction methods” were being used to ensure “there’s as little disruption as possible”.
“There will be some disruption,” Mr Andrews said. “In advance, I apologise to anyone who will have to deal with the challenge of that.”
He said the elevated rail plan ensured significantly less disruption during the construction phase, compared to digging rail trenches.
Part of the Frankston line is now closed for 37 days while three level crossings are removed.
“If you were to use that method across (the Cranbourne-Pakenham line), we’d have to triple it to start with, because we’re removing nine, not three,” Mr Andrews said.
“It is our busiest train line. We’d have to replace all those trains, moving something like 50,000 passengers per day on buses.
“The disruptive part of that would be crippling and this is a much better and a much more efficient way.”
Opposition planning spokesman David Davis said construction would cause “enormous dislocation” for commuters and businesses.
He said it would have a “devastating impact” on communities, and accused Mr Andrews of ignoring those who were affected by the project.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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