VicRoads land sale of open space parkland bordering Merri Creek Trail

Sale of VicRoads land between McBryde street and Merri Creek Trail, Fawkner

VicRoads has declared its intention to sell vacant land linking McBryde street to the Merri Creek parkland in Fawkner.

Sustainable Fawkner strongly believes the State Government should gift this land to Moreland Council to continue to maintain this as open space, and perhaps expand the bordering native grassland reserve into this space.
Continue reading

Advertisements

The Green Chain – Film Fundraiser for Toxic Free Fawkner

Toxic Free Fawkner is campaigning to get the properties that were part of the old NuFarm site cleaned up and opposing inappropriate development of these properties.

Later this week the group will be showing a film to help raise funds for the campaign. This is to raise money for a VCAT case about the toxic site at 102 McBryde St Fawkner.

This site isn’t any contaminated site. It is one of a small number of sites in Australia that is contaminated with dioxin.

Several dangerous chemicals were produced on the site, but the most dangerous one is dioxin. Dioxin is a by-product of the chemicals that were produced on the site 24-D and 245-T. These two chemicals make Agent Orange if they are mixed together.
The group are screening a film about the impact of dioxin on a New Zealand community and the campaign to get the site cleaned up.

Details:
Thursday 19 April, 7.30pm
Fawkner Primary School, corner Lorne St & McBryde St, Fawkner
(enter from McBryde St)

Entry $15 waged/ $5 concession/ $20 solidarity
Children Free

Register to go on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1711045325645164/

Stuffing up Upfield Path extension with Camp Road level crossing Removal

Cemented cable ducting on the M80 rail bridge looking north

I wanted to see the Camp Road Level Crossing Removal done as per the plans presented and discussed at the community consultations. I thought this was a fairly straight forward level Crossing Removal. All they had to do was ensure facility for easily adding a shared use path (bikepath), a station at Campbellfield, and facility to upgrade to dual track.

Of course it would have been much cheaper and more efficient to upgrade to dual track during the Level Crossing Removal and do all the earth removal for the station at the same time. As well as providing a shared use path.

But it seems after the community consultation the Crossing Removal plans were changed. There is no provision for a shared use path under Camp Road whatsoever.

I visited the site on February 6 and the John Holland workers said they would be enclosing and locking off the access track that runs from Camp Road beside the railway line, across the rail bridge over the M80 to stop any pedestrian, joggers or cyclists along this track.

Even worse. The railway bridge over the M80 ring road has single track, provision for a second track and a reasonably wide pedestrian path space. The Level Crossing Removal chose to use the pedestrian pathway for electrical conduits, cementing them in, leaving a narrow path, perhaps 90 cm wide to walk over the bridge. This is most unsatisfactory. They have made extending the Upfield Path to Upfield very expensive, if not impossible, with these works.

Let’s get this straight. The Level Crossing Removal at Camp Road only benefits the drivers along this road, not the rail passengers on the Upfield line who were inconvenienced, or the people that were using the service track along the rail line and future users of a shared use path. The Level Crossing Removal appears to have actually made it more difficult to develop the Upfield shared use path in the Upfield Transport Corridor.

This is poor planning and implementation of a relatively straight forward level Crossing Removal. The planners and builders of yesteryear thoughtfully provided space for a shared use path on the M80 rail bridge, which the Level Crossing Removal Authority have utilised with no thought for future use. We have actually gone backwards with this infrastructure project…..except if you are a road user.

I was given an explicit undertaking by Kevin Devlin, CEO of the Level Crossing Removal Authority, in a letter he wrote dated 6 December 2017 as delegated from the Minister for Transport Jacinta Allen (PDF). These assurances included that the work was done to “easily accommodate future improvements to the rail line and surrounding infrastructure such as the bike path.”

Similarly, Devlin assured me that “LXRA is working closely with both Hume and Moreland Councils to ensure the current works deliver the best possible outcomes for the community within the scope of the project”.

I have raised this with Councillors from Moreland and Hume. The ones that have responded have not sounded impressed. Some of the outcomes have actually gone backwards, against Council policy and strategies for development of cycling infrastructure.

Here are some details:

  • Sydney Road is an 8 lane road, expanding to 14 traffic lanes including for turning lanes at Camp Rd/Mahoneys Rd/Sydney Rd intersection at Campbellfield with a 70Km speed zone. I think it is most unsafe to cycle on Sydney Road at this location due to the high volume of traffic and traffic speed.
  • VicRoads has not provided any safe alternative route for cyclists travelling north/south adjacent to or near Sydney Road. This function could be provided by the Upfield corridor and extension of the Upfield shared use path to Barry Road at Upfield.
  • VICRoads has no plans to extend the Upfield path, despite requests from Moreland and Hume Councils.
  • Please note that the residents of Campbellfield Heights have no backstreet route to access the shops at Campbellfield plaza. They have to come onto Sydney Road (or use the unformed footpath) to access the shops. While creation of the Upfield path would not resolve the difficulty of cycling from Campbellfield residential area to Campbellfield Plaza, it illuminates the problem that there is no safe route for cyclists.
  • As there is no provision made for Upfield shared use path to go under Camp Road, the only other option is for it to go alongside the railway on the service track, then a pedestrian crossing across the 4 lanes and two cycles lanes on Camp Road. Putting in pedestrian crossing lights would seem to remove part of the advantage of the Level Crossing Removal in periodically holding up traffic. It would be a nightmare to cross without pedestrian crossing lights. I would be pleased to find out how else planners propose that a shared use path can be installed in an easy, efficient and cost effective manner at this point.
  • The Level Crossing Removal Authority have used the space allocated for pedestrian/cyclist shared use on the rail bridge across the M80 ring road for electrical cabling ducts and cemented them into place. I would like to know how a shared use path can be installed easily and cost efficiently given the work undertaken by the Level Crossing Removal Authority in utilising this portion of the bridge seemingly ruining any prospect of it being used for a shared use path.
  • Developing infrastructure with poor access at Merri Creek Reserve: Note that that the Victorian State Government committed $1.7 million to develop visitor infrastructure, including 6km of new bike and walking paths, at Merri Creek Park in Campbellfield (Merri Gorge) in February 2017. But we are still to see any commitment to build important bicycle shared use paths in Campbellfield: the extension of Merri Creek Trail and Extension of the Upfield bike path to Barry Road at Upfield.
  • Melbourne is growing in population. Cycling infrastructure, as well as mass transit, needs to be expanded into the middle and outer suburbs to enable residents of these suburbs to choose to use recreational or commuter cycling which has positive emissions reduction and health benefits at a societal level. Extending the Upfield path could provide a convenient cycle commuter route for some Hume residents to Moreland and the city.

I did a site inspection of the Camp Road bridge and rail bridge across the M80 on February 6, 2018. I immediately reported the issue to the Level Crossing Removal Authority by phone, an email to Frank Maguire (MP for Broadmeadows) office, Samantha Ratnam as my legislative Council MP.

I am still waiting responses from the Level Crossing Removal Authority project team. I was told a member of the Level Crossing Removal Project team would get back to me within a week. There has been no response after 20 days.

I followed up my initial email to Frank Maguire MP (Broadmeadows) in person at his office on Friday 23 Feb, but other than acknowledgement that my issue has been registered I have received no further feedback from his office.

I am sure there is going to be more to this story…stay tuned.

Photos from site visit on February 6, 2018

Is it time to extend West Coburg Tram route 58 to Hadfield?

Ever wondered why the West Coburg tram terminates at Melville Road and Bell Street intersection? This article in the Argus in 1944 explains that housing commission building needed to be kept within half a mile of the terminus, or the tram line should be extended up Turner and Derby streets.
Continue reading

The need for Track Duplication between Gowrie and Upfield

Is there room for a 2nd track and bikepath? Camp Rd Level Crossing Removal. Photo: Kevin Balaam via Instagram

As more people move into Fawkner, indeed into Moreland and Hume muncipalities and along the suburbs served by the Upfield rail line, it becomes more imperative to upgrade the Upfield line.

The Level Crossing Removal at Camp Road will not do anything to improve the service to commuters on the Upfield line. This work has been done for improved traffic flow only. The benefit to public transport users will only come with adding dual track from Gowrie to Upfield, which would allow for an increase in service frequency and reduce a bottlenecks in the public transport line infrastructure.

Yes, there are other bottlenecks in the system such as the city loop, which the Metro tunnel line will help resolve.

So why isn’t the Andrews government and State Labor MP Frank Maguire pushing harder for upgrading the Upfield Line to dual track?

The following interchange in letters between Denis Watson of the Upgrade Upfield Committee and Frank Maguire’s office highlights the issue:
Continue reading

Flood Risk to Coburg North when super storm hits Melbourne

1-in-100 flood mapping for Coburg North along Merlynston Creek

I hope you didn’t have too much planned this weekend. It might be good to stay home and see how waterproof your house is when the thunderstorms start rolling in on Friday afternoon, and are expected to keep on dumping torrential amounts of rain all weekend.

Expect flash flooding in low lying areas. Merlynston Creek at Coburg North is likely to flash flood. Take care if you live in the vicinity of the 1-in-100 flood zone for Merlynston Creek, particularly around Sussex Street and Boundary Road. Visit the SES page for Moreland Council for local Flood information.
Continue reading

Upfield line passengers wait until December 18 for resumption of service due to Camp Rd Level Crossing Removal

Train services on the Upfield line have been disrupted since 15th November, from Coburg to Upfield. There is a replacement bus service, but it doesn’t provide the same utility as the train service lacking the facility for mobility scooters and to take bicycles.

Camp Road has also been disrupted, but will be reopened with the new road bridge over the Upfield line at 6:00am Thursday 30 November.

Train passengers have to continue to wait until Monday 18 December for reinstatement of train services, due to continuing track work, overhead electricity cabling.
Continue reading

The journey of Kermit the Growling Grass Frog from Craigieburn to COP23 UN climate conference

Kermit introduces the Black throated finches threatened by Adani

Kermit, the Growling Grass Frog couldn’t resist the opportunity of hitching a ride in my bag to Bonn, Germany and COP23. What frog doesn’t want to see the world beyond their own wetlands? Especially when their species is declining and climate change may be an important factor determining future species survival?

Kermit was centre stage at the Fossil of the Day awards on Day 2 of the conference, when Australia received it’s first Fossil of the Day award for the Adani coal mine.

The 23rd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – to give it it’s full title – was held from 6 to 17 November in Bonn, Germany, under the presidency of the government of Fiji, the first time that a small island nation has served in this role.

I was attending the conference along with Andrea Bunting as members of Climate Action Moreland, part of the Climate Action Network Australia, a node of the global Climate Action Network, an environmental NGO (also called an ENGO).
Continue reading

Passengers forced to help themselves ‘Detrain’ on the Upfield Line

Detraining on the Upfield line from a broken down train south of Park St.

I got to experience a broken down train and the community response in helping each other off the Upfield train yesterday.

Because of level crossing removal work at Camp Road trains are only running to COBURG on the Upfield Line. Yesterday I cycled to COBURG and used the Parkiteer cage for my bike and caught the train into the city for an event. Everything was well, and I caught the 5:02 train from Flinders Street.

The problem with my train started occurring after Flemington Bridge station with the train motor seeming to sputter causing jumps. We made it past Royal Park before the engine pretty well died in fits and starts. “You can do it, you can do it” chanted someone in my carriage as the train inched forward in a few splutters of progress.
Continue reading

Fawkner Festa celebrates diversity in Community

On November 12 Fawkner held it’s community festival in CB Smith Reserve. By all accounts a festive occasion with some beautiful summer weather.
Continue reading