The state government’s Level Crossing Removal Project is an ambitious infrastructure plan made up of 85 separate sub-projects across the city. Thus far the body has removed 47 of 85 problematic level crossings, reducing traffic congestion and dangerous accidents, as well as transforming the affected areas to make them more useable and beautiful for local residents.
Four such level-crossing removals are well underway at Oakover Road, Bell Street, Cramer Street and Murray Road in the northern suburb Preston. Giant concrete pillars made in Kilmore, Melton and Laverton North have arrived and are being installed to make a two-kilometre-long elevated rail line. And this week the Level Crossing Removal Project released designs for the open space that will be created underneath.
It’s big: 60,000 square metres. Or to use the increasingly standard Victorian unit of measurement for land area: about three MCGs big.
The landscaped, interconnected areas will contain 700 trees; 150,000 grasses, shrubs and ground cover plants; two “nature-based” playgrounds; an outdoor gym with fitness equipment; an amphitheatre; a barbeque area; and a shared walking/cycling path that connects the new Preston and Bell stations. The new spaces were all designed with help from the Preston Open Space Advisory panel, using feedback collected from the local community last year.
Completion is still a way off. The boom gates won’t be gone, and the new stations online, until the end of next year. And the resulting open spaces won’t be completed until 2023. Still – nice to know such a transformative project is on the horizon.