AFTER releasing design details of the level crossing removals at Edithvale and Bonbeach earlier this year, the Victorian Government has confirmed that an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) will be required due to the proximity of both projects to the Ramsar-listed Edithvale-Seaford wetlands.
After a range of comprehensive technical and environmental studies and community consultation, it was decided that the rail line will be lowered under Edithvale Road at Edithvale and Bondi Road at Bonbeach, with new stations to be constructed within the trenches and road bridges installed at the current road level.
The EES process will focus on the potential effect of these trenches on regional groundwater and the protected Edithvale-Seaford wetlands and how these effects can be managed. The EES will also examine the possible presence and disturbance of any acid sulphate soils in the area to make sure there are no unacceptable risks to the environment and community.
The level crossing is also being removed at Seaford Road, Seaford, with a new 'hybrid design' that will lower Seaford Road by around 1.5 metres and the rail line will be built onto a small planted embankment. Lowering the rail line was considered unfeasible due to the impact a rail trench would have on groundwater and its effect on Kananook Creek and the nearby wetlands.
The Level Crossing Removal Authority will prepare the EES for the Edithvale and Bonbeach projects, which will be scrutinised by an independent Inquiry appointed by the Minister for Planning.
The project has also been referred under the Commonwealth Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and a decision is expected over the coming months.
The EES and any relevant Commonwealth approvals may take 12 months or more to complete. The tender and construction for the projects is due to take place in 2019.