The Age: Napthine government announces $457 million level crossing budget upgrade. May 2, 2014. Josh Gordon State political editor for The Age.
Three of Melbourne’s most hated level crossings will be removed under a $457 million budget upgrade expected to provide relief for at least 80,000 motorists travelling Glen Iris, Ormond and Blackburn.
Ahead of next Tuesday’s state budget, Treasurer Michael O’Brien and Transport Minister Terry Mulder have announced the removal of level crossings at Burke Road in Glen Iris, North Road in Ormond and Blackburn Road in Blackburn by 2017
In further confirmation that infrastructure will form a key battleground for the November state election, the latest funding announcement means that more than $1 billion will be set aside in the budget to remove eight grade separations, including $200 million to eliminate one of Melbourne’s most hated level crossings, at Main Road, St Albans.
Mr Mulder said the government had announced a total of 23 level crossing removals. “They are a major concern for motorists, they do have an impact on the liveability of Melbourne, but we are great headway with these projects,” he said.
Labor too, has been focusing on level crossing removals as a key part of its transport pitch, promising to set aside $5 to $6 billion to remove 50 of the worst if it wins the election.
Mr O’Brien said about 26,500 vehicles, 158 trains and 186 trams used the Burke Road intersection every weekday, with boom gates down for up to 47 minutes during the two-hour peak.
More than 41,200 vehicles travels along North Road each day, including 180 bus services, with the boom grates down for about 40 per cent of the peak period and traffic queues up to 800 metres long.
The Blackburn Road level is used by about 15,000 vehicles a day, with boom gates down for about 45 minutes of the weekday two hour peak.
In recent months, the Napthine government has made a flurry of transport announcements as it attempts to gain the political high ground following a series of opinion polls placing Labor in front. Included is an airport rail link, a second stage of the East West Link, an upgrade of the Cranbourne/Pakenham rail corridor.
The metro rail project is also expected to be accelerated, potentially funded using proceeds from the sale of the Port of Melbourne.