The unsafe, flood-prone underpass on one of Melbourne’s busiest bike routes may finally be in line for a much-needed fix.
The Gardiners Creek Trail is jammed with commuters every morning and afternoon peak, but at one location it is more cursed than appreciated.
Where the trail goes under Toorak Road through an underpass, the infrastructure is scandalously inferior.
If there has been rain, it is flooded, or wet, or muddy, or silted with slippery sand, or dangerous sticks and debris. And when not flooded it is narrow and crowded, with poor sight-lines, and bad lighting.
Bad, bad, bad.
Bicycle Network, together with the City of Boroondara, has been fighting for years to get the problem recognised and rectified.
The City in 2016 produced a feasibility study that shows how the underpass can be reconstructed. It's not that hard and not that expensive.
And the proposals had the backing of Melbourne Water, which is concerned about the flooding, and VicRoads, responsible for the underpass.
Now, with the level crossing removal announced for the nearby rail crossing at Toorak Road, the stars are aligned.
The government has announced that it proposed to remove the level crossing by elevating the rail over the road.
An excellent solution: one good overpass for trains deserves a good underpass for bikes.
The Trail, the Creek, the Monash toll road and the Glen Waverley rail line, all share the corridor.
The existing junction of the Freeway, Toorak Road and the rail line crossing is a congested mess, made worse by people trying to dodge Monash tolls via a Toorak Road rat-run. It makes a lot of sense to improve it.
The Level Crossings Authority (LXRA) is obliged to consider opportunities for enhancement to the bike network as part of its projects.
The bike underpass is one of a cluster of bridges, crossings, ramps and signals at Toorak Road and Gardiners Creek.
LXRA could advantageously, and at marginal cost to the rail overpass, upgrade the bike underpass.
And there is another compelling reason for LXRA to act: their rail overpass plans at Toorak Road will ruin the continuity of the alternative Gardiner’s Creek Trail that is located on the west side of the Monash.
This trail in the City of Stonnington is less direct and less used than the main trail across the Creek, but it is a vital connection for those riders who reside west of the Creek.
However, with the construction of the elevated rail crossing, the pedestrian crossing at Toorak Road—used by riders on this trail top cross Toorak Road—is eliminated.
Bikes will be required to travel an extra 100 metres or so to the next crossing of Toorak Road, at the Monash intersection, a slow, messy and risky detour that involves the crossing of slip lanes entries to the freeway.
This effectively removes the western Gardiners Creek Trail as a commuting option.
In that case LXRA is doubly obliged to upgrade the underpass on the main Gardiners Creek Trail.
The government is accepting feedback on this project now.
It is vital that you let them know how important it is for the Gardiners Creek Trail underpass to be reconstructed as part of the Toorak Road level crossing removal.