By Rowan Forster
A Labor MP has broken ranks to cite the urgent need for Pakenham’s disastrous level crossings to be scrapped, despite those concerns being downplayed by the state’s Transport Minister.
Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing vowed she will fight to have rail intersections at McGregor Road, Racecourse Road and Cardinia Road abolished.
It comes after firefighters and paramedics were again brought to a halt by the notorious McGregor Road boom gates – delayed by at least five minutes while responding to an emergency.
In response to the incident, Ms Shing revealed level crossing removals in Pakenham were among her top priorities.
“The level crossing works need to continue,” she said.
“I know these ones very well indeed and local access is increasingly difficult as the population grows.
“I’m absolutely determined to continue working on these removals until they’re funded and delivered.”
In August, Bass MP Brian Paynter questioned Minister for Transport Jacinta Allan on the State Government’s plans to alleviate congestion at Racecourse Road’s bursting level crossing.
He highlighted the Gazette’s report, which revealed the introduction of Metro’s 34 high-capacity trains next year will equate to an additional 10 crossings at the thoroughfare every hour – bringing traffic to a half for a third of the morning rush.
In response, Ms Allan said an elected Labor Government would “consider” the future removal of crossings.
“We will consider the removal of additional level crossings, beyond our current schedule, in the future as part of our ongoing work to reduce congestion, increase safety and improve public transport,” she said.
Ratepayers have weighed in on the loathed level crossings, fearful the delays to emergency services will result in casualties.
“They slow down emergency services from getting were they need to be when time is critical and cause major traffic jams to the general public which can again cause delays to emergency services,” Andrew Harris said.
“How many people need to die before the government takes action.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison also acknowledged congestion along the McGregor Road corridor and Council General Manager of Assets and Services Mike Ellis claimed the Racecourse Road crossing would be closed 35 minutes of every hour once the high-capacity trains begin operating.
It comes weeks after the launch of Star News Group’s Unblock the Gridlock campaign, urging both tiers of government to invest in the south east’s gridlocked road infrastructure.
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