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Merri-bek calls for accessible tram stops and protected bike lanes on Sydney Road now after reports Brunswick Level Crossing Removal delayed

07 May 2024

Following media reports today that the Brunswick Level Crossing Removal project will be delayed until 2030, Merri-bek City Council is calling on the Victorian Government to build accessible tram stops and protected bike lanes on Sydney Road now.

Merri-bek City Council Mayor Adam Pulford said that while reports of the postponement of the Brunswick Level Crossing Removal project are disappointing, now is the perfect time for the Victorian Government to address the transport accessibility issues that will arise during the level crossing removals.

"The Upfield train service and shared path will both be closed during the Brunswick level crossing removals. Unless the Victorian Government acts now, before the removals, members of our community who use mobility aids or who have prams and depend on the Upfield line to get around risk being left stranded, because the existing Sydney Road tram stops are not accessible.” Cr Pulford said.

“People who ride along the Upfield shared path will also be pushed out onto Sydney Road, putting them in dangerously close contact with traffic. The Victorian Government needs to build protected bike lanes on Sydney Road to keep people riding safe.

“The State Government’s Brunswick LXRP community engagement was scheduled to commence in 2023 and the project was estimated to be completed in 2027 – it seems clear that this is no longer on track. So we’re saying let’s use this delay to build accessible tram stops and a safe alternative for bike riders along Sydney Road before construction begins.

“Nobody is that happy with how Sydney Road is as it stands – the Victorian Government has the opportunity now to transform Sydney Road and make it a better and much safer experience for everyone.”

Disability advocate Christian Astourian, who lives in Brunswick with cerebral palsy and uses an electric scooter for mobility, said everyone in the community should have the same access to public transport.

“The Victorian Government needs to look at accessible tram stops in Sydney Road as a priority matter and invest as part of healthy communities having the same opportunities for travel and mobility as everyone else in society,” Mr Astourian said.

“Whatever you do to improve accessibility will benefit everyone in the community.”

Council assembled a project team in early 2023 to support the Brunswick LXRP based on Victorian Government advice and invested time and resources in extensive community engagement to help provide a detailed insight into community aspirations to achieve the best possible outcomes for this project.

“Our community engagement told us that the community are excited for the potential Brunswick level crossing removal offers, including the opportunities to create more open space, greenery and to better connect our community,” Cr Pulford said.

“But it also told us that they wanted support for those who need it most, especially people with mobility issues, and they want safe, accessible diversion routes when roads, the train line and paths are closed for works.”

Cr Pulford also welcomed $17 million in the Victorian Budget to improve metropolitan roads and intersections, including safety upgrades for Nicholson Street between Albion Street, Brunswick and Bell Street in Coburg.

“Everybody should be safe on our streets and roads, whether they’re walking, riding, rolling or driving. It’s great to hear that the Victorian Government will be making changes to Nicholson Street to help make it safer,” Cr Pulford said.