In 2015, after years of complex negotiations, the Victorian Government established The Level Crossing Removal Authority to remove 50 dangerous level crossings throughout Melbourne. In what would become the largest rail infrastructure project in Victoria’s history, as part of the FMBH Alliance, Arcadis was responsible for the design component of the design and construction phase of Package 2 of the project to remove four level crossings.
The project presented a number of significant challenges. Arcadis was required to deliver diverse design integrations to meet the strict urban design guidelines of the four unique sites, to ensure a lasting legacy of urban renewal and growth while addressing difficult issues presented by each precinct, including major flooding concerns. Importantly, all works needed to be carried out with minimal disruption to rail and road users and have a positive impact on the environment.
The project involved the removal of four level crossings that covered four geometrically distinct locations: Furlong Road level crossing removal at Ginifer Station, Main Road level crossing removal in St Albans; Heatherdale Road level crossing removal in Mitcham; and Blackburn Road level crossing removal in Blackburn. Three of the sites: St Albans, Ginifer and Heatherdale required the construction of entirely new railway stations and associated facilities, while the Blackburn precinct was able to retain the existing station with enhanced forecourt entry points to the station.
The diversity of the four sites required a significantly unique approach to the construction strategy for each individual site. In addition to the immediate safety improvements of these sites, the key driver of outcomes for the precinct, station works and surrounding community was a long-term and lasting legacy of urban renewal and growth. Positive environmental outcomes were particularly critical to the Blackburn Road station, a precinct associated with significant drainage issues prone to regular flooding resulting in negative safety, environmental and economic impacts.
The delivery of the project required detailed stakeholder engagement and careful and detailed investigation of the sites for possible contamination issues that could possibly impact long-term environmental renewal.
The most critical and immediate impact of the four level crossing removals was the greatly improved safety of pedestrians, drivers and train passengers, which had been a major concern for affected local communities, councils and the Victorian Government over a number of years.
Another positive impact of the project was the environmental outcomes through the reduction of congestion and enabling more frequent commuter train services for the people of Melbourne. Equally important, was Arcadis’ delivery of a design that would foster long-term urban renewal for the four precincts aimed at bringing a sense of community back to these outdated and dangerous level crossing sites. The creation of two independent drainage systems, one to capture and treat potentially contaminated groundwater (from abandoned petrol stations nearby) and the other to capture stormwater would enable the site to dramatically reduce its negative environmental footprint and showcase positive outcomes that could be generated from a careful and planned urban design approach.
The serious issue of how to deal with multiple dangerous level crossings and their far-reaching negative consequences throughout metropolitan Melbourne has been extremely vexed over many decades. Arcadis understood clearly from the very early phase of the project, the wide-ranging positive impacts the successful delivery of the project would have immediately upon completion, as well as for the long-term in terms of urban renewal and environmental regeneration.