THE Caledonian Avenue crossing in Maylands will close this coming Easter weekend, with hopes for a pedestrian underpass now dashed.
The state government says closing the crossing is “necessary for the Forrestfield-Airport Link” track upgrades which will see more trains along that line. Closing it to cars isn’t too controversial since it’s already constantly clogged and traffic backs up way down the street when the boom gates close: that’s around four hours each day.
The closure will cost $15 million and nearby intersections are being upgraded for cars to get across more easily, but the government’s paltry plan to detour pedestrians and cyclists has disappointed locals.
It’s a 350-metre walk to the next nearest pedestrian crossing under the Maylands train station.
Local group Don’t Divide Maylands campaigned to keep the crossing open to walkers and riders, ideally as an underpass.
But this week transport minister Rita Saffioti announced the crossing’s end on the Easter weekend with no plans to resurrect pedestrian access.
There’ll be “improved pedestrian facilities at Guildford Road and Eighth Avenue” and some TBA protected bike lanes on Railway Parade to help cyclists ride up to the next station, and some fixes
for the Maylands station underpass to let riders through more easily than having to haul bikes down stairs.
But the underpass was deemed too expensive, a ministerial media statement says: “Feasibility work undertaken by Main Roads has found that the construction of another underpass at the Caledonian Avenue crossing will cost approximately $26m.”
In November 2021 Bayswater councillor Elli Petersen-Pik moved a motion that his council write to the minister to express “the council’s strong opposition to the state government’s plan to block pedestrian and bike rider access – and request that provision of such access be included in the plans, with a preference for a well-lit and safe underpass”.
He pointed out that back in the 2017 election Labor said they’d spend between $50m to $70m to close the crossing. That would have easily paid for a pedestrian underpass, but instead they’re spending just $15m on a total closure.
This week Cr Petersen-Pik said “the decision to close the crossing, without adequate alternatives in place, is disappointing, short-sighted and will have major implications for residents and businesses”.
He says it undoes efforts to get more people out of their cars.
“Cutting off access for bike riders and pedestrians goes against the state government’s own Long-Term Cycle Network, published only last year, as well as the City [of Bayswater]’s Bike Plan.
“It will permanently entrench the railway line as an even worse barrier to walking within the Maylands Activity Centre, and limit pedestrian access to businesses. Those with mobility issues will be impacted the most.”
by DAVID BELL