by Sahar Foladi
A proposed design to remove one of Dandenong’s last level crossings by 2030 has been received with a mix of emotions.
Webster Street will be closed-off to drivers at the level-crossing and a new road underpass will be built to connect Princes Highway-Lonsdale Street to Cheltenham and Hammond roads.
But the concept designs released to the public on Monday 13 November as left some locals confused.
Councillor Jim Memeti shared the link and online survey on his Facebook page to encourage local contributions on the project.
“I received an extra 20 calls that day majority asking for more information.
“Some of them were very happy and others didn’t understand.
“I encouraged them to go online and submit their thoughts on the area and proposed design.”
Councillor Memeti shares the joy of the majority saying it’s a great gain for the area.
“The community had been promised the grade separation and finally it’s coming to fruition.
“We’ve been campaigning for a very long time to achieve this and it’s great to see that we’re getting a grade separation in the heart of Dandenong.”
The crossing is one of the 25 scheduled to be removed by 2030 but the proposed underpass seems set to drive through businesses on Princes Highway including Marmara Halal Meats.
“Where I see the new plans, it seems the State Government would need to compulsory acquire the businesses. I’m sure there’s a process and I hope they treat it fairly as the businesses have to relocate,” Cr Memeti said.
“What would’ve been the right thing to do was to speak to those businesses first before the concept plans were published just to educate them of the options.”
As one of the longest serving councillors on the council, he’s reminded of a seven acre parcel compulsorily acquired in central Dandenong back in the early 2000’s.
“I’m aware of that process and I know it can be tricky.
“These businesses are family businesses. I hope they do look after those businesses because it’s their livelihood.”
Construction is scheduled to start in early 2025, with Webster Street closed to vehicles at the level crossing from late 2025. Until the new road underpass opens in 2028, traffic will be diverted onto Cheltenham Road.
According to Cr Memeti, residents have voiced their frustrations on the long construction period for the underpass.
“I’m sure these things take time and hopefully those questions can be answered when there’s a consultation with the community.
“It’s still a work in progress but most of them were very happy that it’s finally happening.”
According to the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), the underpass will re-route traffic away from the heart of Dandenong’s CBD in line with Revitalising Central Dandenong Master plan.
Its Big Build website states the project is the best solution for Webster Street determined by technical and engineering assessments.
Meanwhile, Cr Memeti will request the LXRA for a personal consultation along with Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams and affected residents and businesses.
“I want to ensure that we speak to those people, answer their questions and make sure they all understand how it’ll work. But most of all I think it’s a very welcoming news and it’ll be great for the area.”
Webster Street is now added to the list of level crossing removals by 2030, bringing the total to 110 across the state.