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Tracks in the northern half of the $588 million Mernda rail extension will be elevated, including a section over the proposed Mernda town centre.
Final designs for the project were released by the state government today and show sections of elevated rail from just south of Hawkstowe Parade to Mernda station and a train stabling area north of Bridge Inn Road.
The tracks will be built at ground level from South Morang station to just south of Hawkstowe Parade.
The decision to use elevated rail for part of the eight-kilometre extension goes against concerns raised by the council and the community about the visual impact of ‘sky rail’.
In March, the council wrote to Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to voice their opposition to the proposed use of elevated rail.
The council said it feared sky rial would undermine the “strong sense of place” that existed in the rail corridor, and that it would dominate the future Mernda town centre.
South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance spokesman Darren Peters previously told Star Weekly that residents were concerned that sky rail would attract graffiti.
The extension is due to open in 2019 and will include a premium station in Mernda, as well as a second station near South Morang’s Marymede Catholic College.
Bidders have been asked to price a third station near Hawkstowe Parade.
John Holland and a McConnell Dowell Constructors/UGL Engineering joint venture have been shortlisted to submit tenders for the extension.
A contract for the project is expected to be awarded in early 2017, with construction to start soon after.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the extension would deliver trains to booming communities in the northern suburbs.
“We’re not just talking about growth, we’re building for it- extending public transport to new communities so they can get to work, school and appointments, and home again at the end of the day safer and soon,” she said.
This article first appeared on www.starweekly.com.au
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