Stonewalling laneway repairs

By David Schout

Utility companies digging up Melbourne’s famous bluestone pavements can leave them displaced for up to three months.

When undertaking cable, water, gas or electricity works underground in city laneways, companies are generally in no rush to replace the removed bluestones, in some cases leaving an ugly aftermath.

While they are required to eventually reinstate the original stones, trenches are normally replaced temporarily with asphalt when initial works are completed.

The City of Melbourne confirmed that it was not responsible for replacing bluestones.

“Utility companies that undertake bluestone removal works are responsible for reinstating the bluestone to its original condition,” a council spokesperson said.

The council said that in high foot-traffic areas it ensures a swifter replacement.

“Under the Road Management Act, utility companies are required to replace the bluestone within two or three months of the works being completed. The City of Melbourne also regularly puts in place consent conditions requiring works to be completed within four weeks in high priority areas.”

If, however, there is further works to be undertaken on the laneway, the council may extend the timeline required to replace the bluestone.

It is unclear of the process in place should companies fail to replace the bluestones within the timeframe.

The council is undertaking an ongoing bluestone levelling initiative throughout the city.

The initiative involves flattening and replacing irregularly surfaced cobblestones for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

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