WORK has begun to remove the level crossing on Buckley Street in Essendon, with construction crews beginning the task of relocating underground utilities, removing vegetation and establishing work sites as part of the $114 million project.
Buckley Street is a key arterial road in Melbourne's inner north-west, connecting Keilor and Avondale Heights in the west with Mount Alexander Road in the east. The boom gates are down for an estimated 78 minutes during the morning peak, causing significant congestion and safety issues.
The project involves a road-under-rail solution, which involves lowering the existing road underneath the railway line. Moonee Valley City Council has been advocating for a rail-under-road solution to avoid creating a divide between either side of Buckley Street.
The Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) said it has worked closely with the community, traders, transport providers and technical experts over the past 18 months to refine the design so it meets the needs of Essendon residents and visitors.
The design for the project includes new accessible ramps under the station entrance canopies, pedestrian signals to boost safety and streetscaping work on Rose and Russell streets, as well as new cycling facilities.
Meanwhile, three level crossings at Noble Park are due to be removed by the middle of February following strong progress on the Caulfield to Dandenong project, which involves the removal of nine level crossings through Melbourne's south-east.
The three crossings at Noble Park (Heatherton Road, Corrigan Road and Chandler Road) are being removed via the installation of a new section of elevated rail that will take trains over roads and create hectares of new open space underneath. The project also involves a rebuilt elevated station closer to Heatherton Road.
With construction all but completed for the elevated structure, the focus has turned to laying steel track and installing overhead wiring on the line.
All nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong are on track to be removed by the end of the year.