The long-delayed project to replace the notorious Gipps Street steps on the Main Yarra Trail in Abbotsford has legs at last, with the formal planning process now underway.
The project will provide a long, gently sloping ramp that will link riders and pedestrians from the trail connection at Gipps Street down to the trail proper at river level.
The structure passes under the existing Collins footbridge across to the other side the Yarra from where it abuts Gipps Street.
This solution, arrived at after a protracted period of evaluating several design options, has the advantage of enabling a simple connection to a future addition to the trail along the west side of the Yarra through Abbotsford.
Parks Victoria, which is delivering the upgrade, has lodged the planning application with the City of Yarra, with consideration, followed by an approval expected, in the next month or so.
The project would then logically go to tender, resulting in work likely starting early next year to take advantage of the drier conditions.
Currently riders, particularly those with children also on bikes, can have considerable difficulty clambering up or down the steps.
The new structure will solve the problem and make the connection from Gipps Street accessible for those with mobility challenges.
It will certainly result in more riders choosing to experience this section of the Yarra Trail, with attractions, including Dights Falls, the Collingwood Children's Farm and the link to the Merri Creek Trail.
The planning application indicates that Melbourne Water has approved the design of the ramp, which will have stainless steel mesh fencing designed to accommodate periodic floods.
The project will remove weeds and exotic vegetation along the adjacent river and replace with appropriate native species.
Next year when construction is underway there will be an extended closure of the Main Yarra Trail between Gipps Street and Clarke Streets, requiring a detour through local streets.
Bicycle Network has been involved with attempts to resolve the problem of the steps for more than a decade and welcomes this important, ah, step.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.