More congestion in the pipeline

By David Schout

A $21 million upgrade to the CBD’s sewerage system will compound commuter delays within the Hoddle Grid for over 12 months.

From this September until late-2020, a section of Lonsdale St (between Elizabeth and William streets) will be disrupted at various times to, according to City West Water, “help secure wastewater services for people living and working in Melbourne’s CBD”.

Disruptions will include lane closures and some parking restrictions.

The news comes shortly after it was announced both eastbound lanes on Flinders St (between Elizabeth and Swanston streets) would be closed for three years from early September for Metro Tunnel works.

Further, the City of Melbourne plans to begin pedestrianising parts of Elizabeth St from next year.

The state government’s call to delay these plans until tunnel works were complete in 2025 fell on deaf ears when the council pushed ahead with its plans at a May meeting.

While the various upcoming works appear essential in future-proofing a growing inner city, their combined impact on CBD congestion is likely to be significant.

General manager of infrastructure and delivery at City West Water Maree Lang said the latest delays would be managed carefully.

“There’s no doubt Lonsdale St presents us with some logistical challenges given its location and daily use by many city residents, businesses and visitors, however we’ve been planning for many months to minimise disruptions throughout the works period,” she said.

“Importantly, no water or sewerage services will be impacted while work is in progress.”

Transport Minister Jacinta Allan conceded in July that the Flinders St lane closures would cause disruption, but said they were an unavoidable part of large infrastructure projects.

“We are entering into a big and intensive construction phase with the Metro Tunnel project,” she said.

“Not just here at this site but indeed at all of our sites across the CBD as we get in and build two nine-kilometre tunnels and five underground stations and various connections to the existing train network, in a very busy capital city, of Melbourne, a busy international city. It’s a very big construction job. It’s also a complex logistical task, as how all those phases of the construction are carefully managed so we can get the city moving.”

Early sewerage works will take place along Lonsdale St from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday and will include some lane closures and temporary restrictions to street parking.No work will be undertaken on weekends or at night.

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