Works commenced in summer 2016/17 to remove the Melton Highway level crossing by building a new six-lane road bridge over the Sunbury/Bendigo line. The project will be completed by late 2018.
BMD Constructions will construct the project alongside the Level Crossing Removal Authority.
Works underway at Melton highway level crossing
Early works are underway to remove the level crossing at Melton Highway. In early 2017 we started clearing the site, commenced work on relocating underground gas, water, and electricity services, and started the temporary widening of the north side of Melton Highway.
Melton Highway will remain open throughout the vast majority of construction with two lanes of traffic in each direction. We may need to briefly close the highway for one or two weekends to ensure the safety of construction workers when overhead lines are lowered to allow bridge beams to be lifted into place.
Speed restrictions are currently in place for safety reasons on Melton Highway from Overton Lea Boulevard to McCubbin Drive. Speed restrictions will remain in place throughout construction and minor lane closures will occur throughout the works.
Our contractor has established a project office on Melton Highway with staff already on site. A construction site office has also been established near the corner of Sydenham Road and Melton Highway where our construction staff will work from and where our machinery will be stored.
Sydenham road closure
To allow for construction of the road bridge, Sydenham Road will be closed at Melton Highway from 22 February.
During construction, access to Sydenham Road from Melton Highway will be via Overton Lea Boulevard and Trickey Avenue.
On completion of the project in late 2018, Sydenham Road will connect with Victoria Road under the new road bridge. Access to Melton Highway will then be via a two-way service road on the north side of the highway.
The level crossing removal will include:
- building a new six-lane road bridge over the Sunbury/Bendigo line
- bike lanes and footpaths over the bridge in each direction
- new paths and open space under and around the bridge that will better connect the neighbourhood
- lighting underneath the bridge to improve safety and amenity
- stairs on the south side of the bridge, either side of the tracks, to enable pedestrians to more easily cross the railway line
- a new two-way slip lane on the northern side of the highway with a signalised intersection at Overton Lea Boulevard, allowing motorists travelling along Victoria Road and Sydenham Road to access Melton Highway in both directions.
Check out our video highlighting the project design features:
Careful planning and scheduling has allowed two lanes in each direction on Melton Highway to be maintained and only limited train service disruptions through most of the construction program. However there may be times when some short road and rail closures will be necessary to undertake works safely.
Early service proving and geotechnical investigative work started in December 2016. Early this year the constructor started to set up a site office in the area and commenced early works.
Major works for the removal of the Melton Highway level crossing will be conducted throughout 2017 and 2018, with the project set for completion by late 2018.
Further detail on the stages of construction will be available in the coming months as the constructor finalises the program of works.
Construction of this scale can have impacts on people living and working near the site. We will keep locals updated of the types of impacts they can expect well in advance. The following factsheets provide some detail about the types of impacts that may arise:
Stakeholder liaison group
A Stakeholder Liaison Group has been established to promote community involvement in the delivery of the Melton Highway level crossing removal project.
The group, chaired by the Member for Sydenham, Natalie Hutchins, will represent residents, the community and local traders, and is comprised of diverse representatives who will meet regularly as the project progresses.
The group plays an advisory role in ensuring individuals and groups affected by the project have an opportunity to provide feedback on construction activities and urban design.
The group will meet bi-monthly for the duration of the project and will be supported by Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) and BMD Constructions staff as required.
Our consultation program has been divided into three phases. In the first phase from November 2015 to February 2016, we conducted geotechnical and site investigations, gathered information from key stakeholders and community, developed the concept design for the project, and obtained feedback from the community to better understand what is important to residents, land owners, businesses and other local stakeholders.
In our second phase, from March 2016 to June 2016, we presented our preferred design option to the community, shared the results of our phase one consultation and gathered further feedback to help refine the design.
In our third phase of consultation, from July 2016, we sought our preferred tenderer to build the bridge, developed a detailed design solution, presented that detailed design to key stakeholders and community, sought community views on urban design elements, informed community on construction impacts and sought feedback to help minimise these.
During this third phase we sought written submissions to inform LXRA's request to the Minister for Planning for a Planning Scheme Amendment. A Planning Scheme Amendment is to provide permission to conduct construction without needing planning permits for each part of the construction process.
Summary of consultation
- Eight community pop-ups at stations and shopping centres distributing more than 1000 postcards.
- Six community information sessions attended by approximately 300 local residents and businesses.
- Email updates to more than 1162 subscribers.
- Seven Council briefings.
- Businesses and residential properties doorknocked in the area surrounding the level crossing.
- More than 22,000 community updates and factsheets distributed to residents and local businesses.
Consultation allowed LXRA to develop a sound understanding of how the community uses the crossing and the surrounding area, enabling it to consider how the design could enhance local access and connectivity rather than negatively impact it.
During parts of our consultation we found that 97 per cent of people that provided feedback supported the project as they believed it would benefit the local area.
Community consultation has enabled LXRA to refine its design in the following areas:
- Redesign of a two-way service road on the northern side of the highway, with a signalised intersection at Overton Lea Boulevard, to provide access to Victoria Road and Sydenham Road
- Vegetation and urban design to provide a sympathetic finish to the structure that will enhance the way the project fits into the area, the look of the structure, and the level of acceptance among the community
- Introduction of three traffic lanes in each direction
- Inclusion of stairs to enable pedestrians to more easily cross the railway line.
When will the Melton Highway level crossing be removed?
A contract to remove the crossing was awarded in late 2016, and works began in the summer of 2016/17.
Why road over rail?
Extensive site investigations and options assessment, combined with careful consideration of environmental and construction impacts, helped to determine that the road bridge is the most feasible option for the area.
The area is built on dense basalt which is from ancient volcanic activity in the area. Drilling or tunnelling through basalt is not only incredibly difficult but noisy, disruptive and takes a lot longer to complete.
High water table
The site is on a high water table which means the area is subject to flooding. The engineering required to fortify a tunnel or trench against flooding is lengthy, costly and potentially harmful to the local environment.
Environmental and heritage overlays
Heritage sites and federally protected plant species are in the area and add major obstacles to delivering a rail solution for example to the north of the crossing the rare Spiny Rice Flower is found which would be in the way of construction and would relocation.
Taylors Creek is part of a nature reserve which has been listed as a significant heritage site due to the discovery of Aboriginal archaeological artefacts to the north east of the crossing.
The rail sidings at Watergardens Station would have to be moved which is expensive, would lengthen rail and commuting delays and potentially impact the station.
How was the community feedback incorporated into the design?
Based on lengthy community consultation we have made some key changes to the original design of a road bridge over the railway line including:
- connecting Victoria and Sydenham roads under the bridge
- expanding the bridge to three lanes in each direction
- introducing a new two-way slip lane on the northern side of the bridge for vehicles entering Melton Highway via Sydenham/ Victoria Roads
- highlighting key community input for the urban design guidelines
- improved pedestrian connectivity, including the introduction of stairs either side of the railway line.
When will designs be complete?
BMD Constructions has been selected to deliver the project. The project designs are reflected in this video, above. BMD will continue to finalise the designs over the coming months.
Will there be any night works or disruptions?
There will be some limited night works; however, the construction methodology for this project means that there are no plans for extended 24-hour construction. Wherever planned night works are required, we will notify affected residents, road users and public transport commuters in advance.
We encourage any community members needing support in relation to the project to access our free and independent community counselling service. The service is provided by New View Psychology who has qualified clinical and counselling psychologists available to provide support.
For confidential assistance call 1300 830 687 and quote CSLX.