By Kyra Gillespie
Council has approved the closure of Railway Avenue, Pakenham, in a bid to improve traffic safety and to pave the way for additional parking at the busy train station.
Motorists will instead use the newly-opened Henry Street and Racecourse Road intersection.
A public notice on the road chop was issued on 15 August this year, with community consultation open until 14 September.
According to a council report released at their 10 December meeting, of the 73 responses returned, 59 per cent were in favour of permanently blocking the thoroughfare.
Victoria Police, VicRoads and Public Transport Victoria were among those who backed the closure.
For many motorists, particularly those living in Cardinia Waters, the closure is a welcomed move.
“There is a need for a safe exit from Cardinia Waters Village,” one resident wrote in their consultation response.
“Exiting Cardinia Waters Village in either direction has been a nightmare for the past year,” another said.
However there are others who fear its closure will only increase congestion.
“Pakenham is gridlocked enough without closing existing roads. Pakenham needs more roads so drivers have more routes, so they’re not funnelled onto one or two roads that are already at full capacity,” one of the responders said.
“Upgrading the intersection would be a better option rather than just closing it down and pushing all the traffic down a residential street with high density living,” another wrote.
The closure is expected to cost ratepayers up to $100,000 and will also require four buses, the 840, 927, 928 and 929, to detour.
The triple figure does not include parking improvements.
Railway Avenue currently acts as the main and only local access to and from the eastern side of the Pakenham town centre.
Council believe its closure will provide a safer alternative for the community.
“The intersection of Railway Avenue and Racecourse Road is currently unsafe due to sub-standard sightlines. The opening on Henry Street now provides a safer alternative,” the report reads.
While the plan is to transform the road into roughly 125 additional car parks, it can only come to fruition through advocating to Public Transport Victoria.
“Council will continue to advocate to Public Transport Victoria for upgrades at the Pakenham railway station, which include the development of formal parking along the full length of Railway Avenue.
“Public Transport Victoria is looking at improvement around Pakenham railway station; this closure will provide an opportunity to get improvements that benefit rail patrons along Railway Avenue included in their design considerations.”
Parking improvements, according to the report, will be funded through “grant opportunities.”