By Taylah Eastwell
The boom gates at both Mooroolbark and Lilydale are set to be gone before Christmas, with the Level Crossing Removal Project running “months ahead” of the original 2022 completion date.
The new train stations in both suburbs are also expected to open early after a construction-blitz kicks off mid-year.
Between the Manchester Road and Maroondah Highway level crossing removal projects, a team of over 650 workers will be busy building new rail bridges over the roads in an attempt to reduce congestion.
It is said that more than 53,000 vehicles travel through these level crossings each day, where the boom gates can be down for up to a quarter of the morning peak. The Lilydale Crossing alone is believed to have seen five serious incidents and one fatality.
From mid-July, an intensive period of construction will see Mooroolbark station close for up to four months, and Lilydale Station close in September for up to six weeks.
There will also be some temporary road disruptions and replacement buses between Ringwood and Lilydale for a week in July.
The roads will also be closed for a longer period of time later in the year, as crews work to remove the boom gates and open the all-new stations.
The construction blitz is said to be an “alternative to rolling closures spread out over a long period of time”, and is expected to see passengers catching trains before Christmas 2021.
The new station buildings are being pre-fabricated offsite using a modular approach that cuts three months of work to just two weeks.
Part of the existing Mooroolbark Station will be relocated and refurbished by students at Box Hill TAFE, before it goes to the Heritage Yarra Valley Tourist Railway for the community to enjoy into the future.
The new multideck carpark at Mooroolbark Station will be complete in 2022, doubling capacity to 900 parking spots for commuters.
The Level Crossing Removal Project has also seen upgrades to other stations along the Belgrave and Lilydale lines, including Blackburn, Bayswater and Mitcham – with a total of eight level crossings to be removed along the line.
46 level crossings have already been removed across the state, with the government aiming to remove 75 by 2025.
Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said the project is set to transform our local area.
“We’d like to thank the community for their patience while we complete these works, and for all their feedback on the design for our new station precincts,” Ms Shing said.