The massive Swan Street Bridge widening project has inexplicably failed to fix the sub-standard underpasses at the Yarra River.
The inadequacy of the underpasses on both sides of the river have been long recognised as hazardous, subject-to-flooding pinch-points on one of the nation’s busiest bike routes.
Now, as the bridge widening nears completion, the underpasses are being re-instated at the same sub-standard width. And clearances appear even worse than before.
There was no design, engineering or hydrology impediment to fixing this problem.
The contractor had assessed the path widening as feasible and Melbourne Water had no objection to the solution.
How could this happen under an administration where all modes are required to be considered in transport projects?
From the outset, Bicycle Network reminded the project team that the opportunity to address the underpass issue must not be passed up.
The width problem, where the lanes pass under the bridge, was officially documented and listed for resolution long before the bridge widening project arrived.
Paradoxically, the width problem of the car bridge above was not: it was not on any public priority list for a fix until the then opposition dreamed up the project as an “election commitment” prior to the last state election.
Now, the real problem is not fixed and the invented problem is fixed.
Are the government and VicRoads going to take responsibility for this bungle?
What is their plan for bringing this strategic bicycle route up to their own published standards now that the works are not to be delivered as part of the bridge project?
The City of Melbourne should not be left off the hook either.
The Bicycle Plan 2016—2020 states on Page 21: “Work to widen under Swan Street Bridge to ease congestion and investigate potential flooding under the west end of the bridge.”
Bicycle Network also alerted Melbourne City of the importance of ensuring the issue was addressed as part of the bridge project, apparently to no avail.
It is inevitable that the underpass problem will have to be addressed, given the volume of riders on the Main Yarra Trail.
That will be a much more expensive project that if it had been incorporated into the very large scale project now being completed.
Please politely ask the Roads Minister and the Lord Mayor how they plan to ensure that this failure is rectified.