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A PROPOSAL for a 2.5km stretch of sky rail with new elevated stations at Bell and Preston has been welcomed by residents fed up with traffic.
A council report released last week urged the State Government to splash out to tackle Preston’s choked level crossings.
Under the $247 million proposal, elevated track would run from Miller St to north of Murray Rd, Preston with Bell and Preston stations lifted up.
Lifting the stretch of track would open up “two MCGs worth” of land, which could be used for cycling routes or public parks, according to an independent council study.
Readers voiced their approval for the proposal, with one declaring “it’s about time”.
Preston woman Ali Way said sky rail was the “sensible option”.
“Even though I’ll be directly affected by the works, it will be worth it when the project’s complete,” she said.
David said he was happy northern suburbs residents were “finally getting noticed after years of neglect”.
The study, by Raylink Consulting, John Hearsch Consulting and Rail Asset Partnership, recommended the State Government upgrade an existing plan to remove the Bell St level crossing to include the removal of three more crossings at Oakover Rd, Cramer St and Murray Rd.
The study predicts removing all four crossings at once would cost $247 million.
It said if the works were done separately the total cost would be $290 million, an extra $43 million.
The State Government has pledged to remove three of the worst level crossings in Darebin: High St, Reservoir, Bell St, Preston and Grange Rd, Alphington.
The Bell and High St crossings are still in the community consultation phase, while work has begun to lower the Grange Rd crossing.
The study claims lowered rail at Preston would be unfeasible mainly due to its extreme cost and logistic hurdles, with both a tunnel and a “cut and cover” trench option ruled out.
Preston state Labor MP Robin Scott said he had been working with Darebin Council on the issue of level crossings since 2015.
Bell St carries 52,000 vehicles every day, with the crossing boomgates down for 27 minutes during the morning peak of 7am-9am.
Councillors will vote on whether to officially adopt and promote the proposal next week.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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