MAYLANDS’ heavily congested railway crossing at Caledonian Avenue will be closed by the state government, but locals fear pedestrians and cyclists will face such lengthy detours they’ll drive instead.
In 2017 Labor promised to close the crossing and upgrade surrounding crossings to ease traffic flow, as drivers were routinely waiting more than 10 minutes to cross. The boom gates are lowered 150 times a day for a total of nearly four hours, causing traffic to bank up along Whatley Crescent and Railway Parade.
Removing it wasn’t precisely costed but the government estimated it’d come in at between $50m-$70m.
On August 25 transport minister Rita Saffioti announced a more frugal $15m plan to close the crossing in the first half of 2022 (said to be necessary for the Forrestfield-Airport Link), upgrade the intersections at 7th and 8th Avenue, and make the whole of Whatley Crescent two lanes to give people an easier drive through alternative routes.
But it’s a long hike round for pedestrians or cyclists.
Bayswater councillor Elli Petersen-Pik says in the past four years he has several times advised Metronet and the state government they needed to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists, such as an underpass.
“It’s a main crossing for many people from one side of Maylands to the other,” he said.
There’s a lot of housing on the north side and schools and shops on the south.
Now pedestrians will have to hike at least another 350m to venture down under Maylands train station’s crossing, and cyclists are in for a detour of at least 500m each way.
Cr Petersen-Pik says the crossing closure is required but is concerned that in the mitigating measures “all the focus is about cars”. He fears that such lengthy and inconvenient detours will just end up with more people choosing to drive, especially people who used to ride with their kids to school. Since raising the issue many locals have echoed his concerns.
“It goes against what we’re trying to do on council, the Safe Roads to School plan,” Cr Petersen-Pik says.
He says there should’ve been more consultation ahead of this week’s surprise announcement.
The state government media release says a road bridge at Ferguson Street, close to Caledonian Avenue, had been considered, but 14 homes would have to be demolished and more traffic would’ve ended up on local streets. There’s no mention as to whether a lower-impact underpass or pedestrian bridge was considered.
It does give pedestrians a small boon, saying pedestrian access at Eighth Avenue and Guildford Road (the crossing south from the Maylands Station) will get upgraded.
Cr Petersen-Pik’s planning to raise the issue again with the state in a briefing to councillors scheduled for this week.
by DAVID BELL