Push to save open space

Tara Murray

Community concerns are yet to be addressed in the planning for the Fitzgerald Road level crossing removal, according to Brimbank council.

The state government announced in January that work on removal of level crossings at Fitzgerald Road, Ardeer and Robinsons Road, Deer Park had been brought forward to this year.

At last week’s council meeting, councillors resolved to write to Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and the Level Crossing Removal Project team over a number of concerns they have about the Fitzgerald Road removal.

The council had previously written to both in September, raising concerns about loss of open space and biodiversity, traffic noise impacts, air pollution and active transport. The council said it did not receive replies to its letters until after the announcement that the project had been brought forward.

Councillors felt that concerns raised in the letters hadn’t been considered.

Last week, Cr Virginia Tachos said the council had not had a say on the project.

“We don’t have any say, yet our community will still be impacted,” Cr Tachos said.

“The concerns that the community has are quite valid and if we can negotiate for something better and also have this project undertaken and I think that’s a win-win for our community.”

Councillors passed a motion calling for land at 274 Forrest Street, Ardeer to be retained for public space. The Level Crossing Removal Project plans to use the land as a road reserve.

Ardeer Green Activity Hub was set to be built on the land, but with the site impacted by the development, it is no longer possible.

Cr Sam David said the council can’t stop the state government from taking the land, so it was up to them to get the best possible deal for the community, including having the state government maintain the area.

Cr Sarah Branton said a lot of councillors were disappointed to be losing the open green space and called for the project to include some rehabilitation of green space.

The council also wants a commitment that a shared user path will extend from Forrest Street to Station Road, along Tilburn Road, and the provision of a shared path from Robinsons to Station roads via Bon Thomas Reserve.

Fitzgerald Road Level Crossing Removal Project, Andrew Pepplinkhouse said the road over rail design was the only way to remove the crossing.

“We’re retaining green space wherever we can, including the area between the new road and Kororoit Creek; while planting more than 200 trees and 150,000 shrubs.

“Works to remove this level crossing have not started, however as we move ahead with the project we’ll continue to meet and engage with council as we’ve done throughout the 12-month planning process.