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State pushes on with tram bridge

30 May 2018

State pushes on with tram bridge Image

By Shane Scanlan

Detailed plans have emerged of the government’s proposed Yarra’s Edge tram bridge, in breach of a 2014 election promise.

And there is evidence that the government is proceeding with the controversial crossing regardless of the findings of a planning panel examining the proposal.

Albert Park MLA Martin Foley shocked Yarra’s Edge residents late last year by defending a recommendation for the bridge in the Draft Fishermans Bend Framework document, currently before the panel.

Before the last election, Mr Foley wrote to residents promising “alternative public transport options”. When challenged on his about-face, Mr Foley justified his support for the bridge because it was now proposed to be aligned on the other side of the Yarra Point building.

“In terms of the commitment that was made, and I made it to many people in this room. I made it to Mirvac and many others. In terms of that we would not cross the river at Point Park,” he told Docklanders on November 8 last year. “And I, in all good faith and good conscience and certainty believe that this proposal reflects that commitment.”

It has now emerged that the government was working on detailed plans for the bridge long before the draft framework was released.

In its submission to the planning panel, the ANZ Bank includes two sets of plans prepared by consultants Jacobs.

The first plan shows the bridge rising nine metres above the water but, to get to this height, the tramway starts rising in Collins St before it even reaches the eastern end of the ANZ Centre. By the time it leaves the Collins St alignment it is six metres in the air and passes within half a metre of the ANZ building. Under this scenario, the track extension to the corner of Bourke St at Buluk Park would have to be abandoned.

The second option shows the bridge rising six metres above the river. It wouldn’t start rising until it left Collins St, but would still pass within .5m of the ANZ building.

Dates on the drawings show the plans were “approved” in January and February of 2017.

In its submission, ANZ objects to the proposed bridge on a number of grounds and points out that the tram bridge option should not be presented as fait accompli but, rather, an option that needed a lot more study.

“Whatever preference may be expressed by the Minister in this process, the Amendment documentation should fairly and accurately acknowledge that the ultimate location of the northern crossing remains uncertain,” the bank said.

However, the bank (among others) seems likely to be disappointed, considering the final submission to the planning panel which all but confirms the preferred route.

“The Minister understands from Transport for Victoria (TfV), that planning by TfV for the proposed tram route through Lorimer will continue over the next 12 months. The planning process will involve confirming the proposed tram route and seeking state government funding for the same. Once the proposed route is confirmed, TfV will confirm what land within private property will need to be acquired and how,” the Minister’s submission said.

And, while the proposed route has many critics, Yarra’s Edge developer, Mirvac, would appear to not be among them.

The developer is advertising the benefits of a tram stop in its latest marketing materials, which marks a stop on the river bank outside its final, yet-to-be constructed tower.

Among other issues raised in the ANZ submission, the bank said:

  • Experts had said the north wharf structure would have to be strengthened to carry trams;
  • The narrowness between 833 and 839 Collins St was a limiting factor and raised safety concerns;
  • “Collins Landing was conceived as a public park / urban space that not only complemented the wharf but also protected the primary viewshed down the Collins Street axis, which was intended to terminate at the water’s edge. The Collins Street view corridor was regarded as sufficiently important in planning for Victoria Harbour, that the ANZ Centre and Y3 Building were designed to avoid any incursion into it;” and
  • “At no stage has the impact on the achievement of planning objectives for Docklands (or the Yarra River more generally) been raised by any party to this proceeding. ANZ contends that these are important planning considerations that should be given substantial weight in the Review Panel’s consideration of how it addresses the additional tramline in the Amendment documentation.”
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