By Mitchell Clarke
Pakenham’s dangerous and congested Cardinia Road level crossing will be a thing of the past by 2021, with construction to remove the intersection set to begin later this year.
The state government announced on Friday 23 August the $80 million project will be undertaken by an alliance of Fulton Hogan and Metro Trains.
Member for Bass Jordan Crugnale said commuters and residents in and around Pakenham can already see the benefits of level crossing removals further down the line.
“The remaining three in Pakenham need a lot of preplanning work, technical expertise and community involvement and they too will be gone leaving the whole line free of boom gates,” Ms Crugnale said.
“We are growing and we are making sure we have a road and rail network that move people quickly and safely around.”
Meanwhile, works to remove Berwick’s notorious Clyde Road level crossing will start next year, with the project set to be completed by 2022.
Member for Narre Warren South Gary Maas said the removal of the dangerous crossing will see less congestion for the 22,000 vehicles using the crossing daily.
“Jordan Crugnale and I have both been advocating strongly within government and on behalf of our constituents. The message from our constituents has been clear. They want the Clyde Rd level crossing removed as soon as possible,” Mr Maas said.
“The Berwick and Pakenham communities are tired of wait times particularly at morning peak time where the boom gates are down for about a third of the time.
“With educational, medical and industrial precincts close to this level crossing, traffic flow must be improved. We want the Clyde Road level crossing gone so that our communities can either get to work, get their education and get the care they need.”
But the state government’s announcement is drawing criticism from the opposition, with Member for Gembrook Brad Battin accusing Labor of removing the crossing with the cheapest option, placing essential health services and businesses at risk.
A road underpass will be built underneath the Pakenham line, with engineering assessments and site investigations identifying that the best design to remove the level crossing.
It’s said other designs would take up to a year longer to complete, would require compulsory acquisition of private properties and significant underground service relocation, including the Longford gas main.
“As a community, we support the removal of the Clyde Road level crossing,” Mr Battin said.
“However, Labor has failed to deliver this project in the last 16 of 20 years they have been in government, forcing residents to wait.
“After all these years they now want to short change Berwick with the cheapest option.”
Mr Battin says the state government have failed to consult with essential health services, the animal hospital and other businesses along Clyde Road to discuss how the project will impact them and their staff.
“Growth corridors like Casey and Cardinia contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in stamp duty to the state, yet Daniel Andrews decides to give them the cheapest option for infrastructure,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews and Labor can’t manage money, and due to their incompetence good businesses will close, and our community will miss out on important infrastructure upgrades.