At their last meeting, Moonee Valley City Council agreed to accept $165,000 worth of traffic rectification from the state government’s Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP), provided missing traffic data is also received.
MVCC had previously costed works required in local streets and Buckley St, to ameliorate traffic impacts of the Buckley St underpass, at just under one million dollars.
MVCC wrote to LXRP in July 2019 asking for the release of the full traffic assessment for the area and advising them of five petitions from the local community requesting street treatments.
MVCC’s package of works included threshold treatments to seven streets, road humps in three streets, ‘wombat crossings’ at Leslie, Stanley and Sherbourne Streets, returning Sherbourne Street to one way and replacing the U-turn at McPhail Street with a U-turn at Violet St. (The detailed schedule is included below.)
LXRP responded with an offer of $165,000 for a smaller package of works also detailed below.
As part of their offer, LXRP agreed to provide some of the traffic data identified by MVCC as missing from the Post Project Monitoring Study – including peak hour vehicle truing movements, 24 hour counts of volumes and speeds and Road Safety Audits.
MVCC has identified that Sherbourne Street remains particularly unsafe and it does not consider the LXRP proposals to be sufficient.
The pedestrian operated signal at St Columba’s has also been delayed by the Department of Transport, although it has been budgeted for by the state government.
At the council meeting, Cr Lawrence said he was concerned about council having to accept a sum of money to get information and be involved. He supported the deal along with all other councillors except Crs Gauci Maurici and Nation.
Cr Gauci Maurici said Council requested information in 2017 and that previous traffic projections missed issues that were bound to arise in surrounding roads. She criticised the request for money for a traffic report for information that should have been received well before now. She said she could not support the motion although she is pleased residents who raised issues by petition will be getting a response.
Cr Nation said “it speaks to the entire project in general … it is deeply disturbing.”
Cr Sharpe read an email from a resident listing traffic and safety issues, particularly around Sherbourne Street.
One resident is sympathetic to MVCC’s situation: “accepting the $165K is the only way the council can get the data they need and I believe they are thinking $165K now is better than another 3 years of fighting and potentially getting nothing after that. At least with the $165K and traffic data they can move on and start getting things fixed. It’s very wrong on the LXRP’s part, but I understand why the council would do that.”
The state government announced this week that $790 million is being spent on transport upgrades, yet none of that seems to be funding additional improvements at Essendon Station and Buckley St.
One resident said suggested the area had been a low priority: “when you factor in that Buckley St was one of the cheaper crossing removal projects and other areas were provided with additional walking and bike paths, new train stations and improved connectivity whereas connectivity around Buckley St is now significantly worse. The government is also contributing to the cost of installing decking over the rail trenches at Cheltenham and Mentone to increase open space.”
One resident remains concerned about McPhail St: “I’ve witnessed one collision at the lane & a collision where an ambulance was called outside the eye clinic witnessing the aftermath. A problem with visibility exists which is unavoidable but at the same time a proactive approach is needed … Consideration should be given to making [Sherbourne St] one way from Stanley Street to Park Street while maintaining two way for a short distance between Stanley & Buckley Street.”
Another resident is disappointed: “Somebody really does have to be killed for them to do the right thing. Firstly, the pedestrian crossing has encountered “unspecified problems”, so that is not going ahead … The other problems identified are totally ignored. The LXRP/state government are withholding critical information from the Post Project Monitoring Study [and] the council accept a reduced offer of $165,500, although it identified that the required works would cost $965,000.”
While Moonee Ponds station has received recent funding for upgrades, Essendon Station still presents issues for disability access and cyclists.
One resident commented: “a few dollars could be found to fund repair of the road surface where pedestrians walk on the corner of Flower Street & Buckley Street service road. Uneven patch up job was done & an ever deepening pot hole where pedestrians cross the road.”
Council’s plans and LXRP’s responses can be found here: