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THE Baillieu Government will consider an offer by private developers to pay up to $2 billion towards the cost of axing Melbourne's 172 level crossings.
The bold plan, led by the Committee for Melbourne, would see land at up to 20 main rail crossings handed over for private-sector retail, residential and commercial development.
In exchange, the developers would pay to build rail overpasses or underpasses at an average cost of $100 million per intersection.
Minister for Transport Terry Mulder said he would consider the proposal when it is presented to the Government next year.
"While offsetting costs by allowing development at the site is an option we might consider, each individual site will need be carefully approved to ensure that any development will fit in with local environment," Mr Mulder said.
Committee for Melbourne chief Andrew MacLeod said the organisation had assembled a consortium of interested businesses and was about a year away from presenting its final proposal.
"There are clearly significant cost savings available to a government that is willing to go down this path," Mr MacLeod said.
He will tell business leaders and academics that the removal of level crossings is one of Melbourne's biggest priorities - "in the ideal world they wouldn't exist" - when he gives the annual Richard Searby Oration at Deakin University this week.
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