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The closeness of the work site hut to the town houses. Removal of the level crossing in Alphington has been a disaster for James McDonald, whose house is near the crossing and has some empty govt land behind it.
It's the spot the govt has chosen to place five large workers huts - about 10 centimetres from his bedroom windows. He and his 10 neighbours in the block of townhouses have been trying for eight months to get the worker huts moved, but the Level Crossing Removal Authority has been no help at all despite their sleep being ruined nightly for no real reason besides expediency for the builder.October 29, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.
James MacPherson and his neighbours in Alphington have no idea how many times they've been woken in the middle of the night over the past seven months,.
"We've completely lost count - a truck will turn up at 2am and turn on its reverse beeper," says Mr MacPherson, the owners corporation chair in his group of townhouses.
Two hundred metres from their homes, hundreds of workers are lowering the rail line under Grange Road, part of the government's $7 billion level crossing removal program.
The residents are in favour of losing the crossing - it's a major congestion point in their area - but they're less fond of the site offices that have been set up just outside their bedroom windows.
A consortium of builders are being paid $395 million for works along the Hurstbridge railway line, including the Alphington crossing.
Their site offices run 24 hours a day, and could have been put anywhere on a large chunk of unused publicly owned land near the level crossing.
Instead, the temporary building has been placed directly outside the 10 townhouses.
Air conditioning units run round the clock, there are regular unheralded overnight works, and construction equipment is transported from the site at all hours.
It will be at least a year before the works finish.
A few kilometres up the tracks, the Andrews government's Level Crossing Removal Authority, is building a power substation between Eaglemont and Ivanhoe railway stations.
Power supply on the line is being improved so more trains can run, and the government has chosen a location directly opposite some houses.
There, dozens of trees will go to build the 40-metre-long power substation.
The authority won't move the substation elsewhere, saying it was the best location to avoid flooding, that could accommodate it and that avoided acquiring private property.
The authority's director for the project, Steve Brown, said it had looked at other locations but that this was "the most suitable site".
Residents living opposite say this is untrue, but that any attempts to convince the authority to consider moving it had simply been dead-batted.
Both projects have left residents appalled at the authority and its officers who, they say, have relentlessly "consulted" with them - ultimately with zero effect.
The authority has more than 80 communications and stakeholder relations officers - employed to tackle issues like this.
But Mr MacPherson - like many other residents who have dealt with a body that seems determined to quickly push through massive projects - said the officers he'd dealt with had been of little help.
Instead, complaints and concerns were left "almost deliberately ... until it is too late".
One Eaglemont resident, John McCubbery, said the authority would say "hand on heart there has been an extraordinary amount of consultation ... with residents". And yet nothing had changed.
The authority was being used as a shield by local MPs to avoid responsibility for decisions like this one, Mr McCubbery said.
"It's cowardly - although they are a perfect shield."
Mr McCubbery, said the authority was working to a predetermined schedule "in time for the next state election".
He too wanted train services improved on his line, and said there were alternatives that did not require a substation built directly opposite his house.
The authority had employed a strategy of "appearing to co-operate" but not providing adequate evidence to residents.
"So the whole process gets drawn out until the trees are destroyed and the substation is dropped into place and no-one can change anything," he said.
There are some positive moves though, even if they are only incremental.
Mr Brown told The Age that the location chosen for the Alphington office was "the only available land large enough to cater for construction crews and car parking, with direct access to the rail corridor".
But this week, after its latest meeting with residents, the authority has installed blinds, timers on air conditioning units and awnings over windows.
This article first appeared on www.standard.net.au
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