Level crossing workers are - literally - paving the way for better foot and cycle movement through the south-eastern suburbs, with work kicking off on a new 17-kilometre shared use path.
The rail trail, which will run from Dandenong through to Caulfield, is the very first element to be installed for the new open space being built around newly elevated sections of the Cranbourne/Pakenham line.
As well as removing nine level crossings, raising the rail will open up 22.5 hectares’ worth of new parks, paths and play areas – including two new off-leash dog parks at Noble Park and Clayton.
Project Director Brett Summers described the project as “not just about cars and trains”.
“It’s about improving the ways available to people to move around their suburbs.”
“Anything that encourages kids and families to get out and about is fantastic, and exactly what good infrastructure should be all about,” he said.
Within the City of Greater Dandenong area, four kilometres of trail will link up the Eastlink trail and a short section of existing trail in Springvale, making use of land recently occupied by ground level tracks.
For locals looking to travel by foot or jump on a bike, the path will provide a safe, off-road connection to local schools and sports destinations, including Noble Park Secondary College and the Noble Park Aquatic Centre.
It’s expected that the trail will also be a boon for businesses right along the rail corridor.
Alongside the rail trail and new facilities such as sports courts, a significant amount of green space will also be created, and will be home to thousands of trees and shrubs at Noble Park. More than 8000 cubic metres of soil and ballast have already been removed in preparation for landscaping to begin.
Meanwhile, works started yesterday (20 March) to demolish the old 1960s-era brick Noble Park Station. Passengers are already enjoying the brand new facility which opened in mid-February.
A time capsule will also be buried in the parkland near Heatherton Road, with locals being called upon to send in ideas and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
When complete, the continuous 17-kilometre shared path will link together several sections of existing paths, and extend from the Monash University Caulfield Campus to the Eastlink Trail near Yarraman Station.