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.
Building the first half of the bridge
Work started on building the first half of the Melton Highway road bridge in May, when traffic was shifted to the widened northern side of Melton Highway, clearing the way for us to safely build the first half of the bridge on the south side.
Between 8:00pm, Friday 28 July until 5:00am, Monday 31 July, while Melton Highway was closed at the crossing and train services were suspended, 24 bridge beams, each weighing 76 tonnes, were placed over the railway line on four concrete bridge supports and reinforced earth walls.
This was a major milestone for the project, requiring use of a 600 tonne crane and crews working around the clock in testing conditions. Check out this time-lapse video of the beams being lifted onto the bridge supports.
Once this half of the structure is completed, all four lanes of traffic will be moved onto the new southern side of the bridge and we will begin work on the north side. The level crossing will be removed over summer 2017/18 and the whole project will be completed by late 2018.
Watch our animation below to see how the road bridge will be built.
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:
Major works for the removal of the Melton Highway level crossing will continue throughout 2017 and 2018, with the project set for completion by late 2018.
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:
Careful planning and scheduling has allowed two lanes in each direction on Melton Highway to be maintained for the vast majority of construction, 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.
Traffic and pedestrian changes
Our construction zone is expanding, so more areas need to be closed to allow us to work safely.
From 15 May 2017, the south side of Melton Highway between Overton Lea Boulevard and McCubbin Drive will become part of our construction zone. All four lanes of traffic on the highway (two in each direction) will be moving to the north side so that the team has space to start building the bridge on the south side.
This also means the footpaths along the south of Melton Highway between Sydenham Road and Entrance 6 of Watergardens Town Centre (nearest Spotlight) will be closed for construction.
Pedestrians will be able to cross the railway tracks safely on the north side of Melton Highway or at Watergardens Station. Pedestrian routes are marked in the map below.
Sydenham road closure
Sydenham Road will remain closed to allow construction of the road bridge.
During construction, access to Sydenham Road from Melton Highway will continue to 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.
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. The project will be completed by late 2018.
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. 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.