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Residents in Melbourne's inner north who are set to endure months of around-the-clock works to remove Upfield rail line level crossings have slammed the consultation process, saying proposals to improve cycling and pedestrian access have been ignored.
From July 28 until November 15, noisy 24/7 works will result in nearly two kilometres of the rail line in Coburg and Brunswick being raised to remove level crossings at Munro, Reynard and Bell streets and Moreland Road. Coburg and Moreland stations will be rebuilt.
This follows a bruising fight between many locals and the Level Crossing Removal Project, with residents saying they were kept in the dark about the true scope of the construction works, while those living near the rail line who don't qualify for temporary relocation must withstand overnight noise for months.
Upfield Corridor Coalition spokesman James Conlan said the agency appeared to have locked in its sky-rail designs before the community gave its input.
"We had basic design tweaks that could have solved lots of problems and they completely ignored us," Mr Conlan said.
Commuters will be able to access stations via a raised crossing at Reynard Street and will be given traffic light priority at Munro Street, but calls from the resident group for this to be rolled out at Moreland Road and Bell Street were not met.
"It's the 'Upfield Wave' — when the boom gates are down and people can ride their bikes and walk across the crossings ... but if you remove these crossings and don't provide priority for bikes and pedestrians, they will be disadvantaged by the project," Mr Conlan said.
He said moving Moreland station further south so it straddled Moreland Road would have improved access to the station, a nearby bus interchange and tram stop and saved 100 trees from being felled at Gandolfo Gardens, but this option proposed by residents was also ignored.
The $542.4 million project will deliver improvements for cyclists by widening the popular Upfield bike path, separating cyclists and pedestrians between Moreland Road and Bell Street.
It will also create 2.5 kilometres of parkland and open space in a part of Melbourne crying out for more greenery.
But residents say they have seen only indicative designs and don't even know how high the rail line will be, despite works starting within months.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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