CBD residents may be relocated

The Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) is talking about relocating CBD residents affected by five years of 24-hour, seven days a week construction.

In its environmental effects statement (EES), the authority warns of severe amenity impacts as it builds both CBD North and CBD South stations from 2018.

Unlike other affected areas, the work in the CBD won’t stop after hours or on weekends and the authority says some residents could be offered temporary relocation.

Local residents can expect constant truck movements as soil is removed from the giant caverns to be excavated beside the station locations in both the north and south beneath Swanston St.

The authority also warns of noise and vibrations from underground tunneling machines for “several periods” during construction.  The authority says this “could trigger the need for management actions and mitigation measures”.

“These impacts could be a source of concern for some affected residents, especially those close to the construction of the station cavern. Some of these residents could be offered temporary relocation and the construction contractors would need to engage closely with these households,” chapter 10 of the EES cautions in relation to CBD North station.

The EES says: “Residences adjoining the LaTrobe, Little LaTrobe and A’Beckett street construction zones are also likely to experience ongoing noise and dust 24 hours per day during the construction phase. The hours and nature of these works would be likely to have a greater impact on these households than other construction work sites in the area, which are typically restricted to normal working hours.”

At the other end of the city, it says of CBD South station: “The impact on dwellings could be further reduced by offering relocation for highly impacted households, particularly for sustained out of hours construction works.”

“Activities at this site would likely have an amenity impact on residents in the adjoining buildings such as Bible House, UniLodge, Manchester House and the Ashdown Apartments. The potential severity of these impacts would be increased by the 24-hour nature of works occurring within the site.”

Around CBD South, the authority is anticipating 150 truck trips every day for four years (on average but rising to 210 during peak periods), while in the north, the number of truck movements is the same, but for only 15 months.

The MMRA has proposed Russell and Exhibitions streets as “construction vehicle standby areas” for both CBD construction areas.  It has proposed trucks exit the city via Flinders St, Exhibition St and St Kilda Rd from CBD South and via Victoria, LaTrobe and Exhibition streets from the northern works area.

However, the City of Melbourne has objected to the idea of massing trucks in the south of the Hoddle Grid.  It suggests that the authority use VicTrack land on the southern side of the railway lines near the tennis centre.

The council’s submission in response to the EES says: “As well as supporting a ‘just in time’ construction methodology, the City of Melbourne supports the use of innovative construction techniques, such as the use of conveyors, that would reduce the number of truck movements in and out of construction sites.”

The council notes, though, that just-in-time techniques cannot be used for concrete pours and for removing spoil from tunnel boring machines.

Around CBD North, the MMRA notes that it is acquiring 49 apartments but believes residents will easily find alternative local accommodation.  It also predicts disruption to class timetables at RMIT and the destruction of up to 46 trees.

In the south, the authority expects to remove 24 trees and acquire a number of commercial properties around Port Phillip Arcade.  It will take the City Square for the duration of the construction and will also establish a construction site in the north-west corner of Federation Square.

Submissions in response to the EES closed on July 6.

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