From a CBD perspective, the Metro Rail project is shaping up better than ever expected.
All the benefits will still flow, but the pain factor is reducing.
Local learned last month that Swanston St will remain open during the construction process, which is great news for traders, commuters and residents alike.
Rather than relocate existing services, the authorities have determined that is it better to compulsorily-acquire adjoining properties and use these sites to burrow down next to Swanston St and then construct underground stations from the side (see our interview with project CEO Evan Tattersall on page 6 of this edition).
It had previously been thought that Swanston St would be opened up for many years at the sites of CBD North station north of LaTrobe St and CBD South station between Flinders and Collins streets.
After it achieves planning permission for the project, the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) will acquire a modest Swanston St apartment building opposite RMIT as well as 14 small commercial buildings.
At the southern end, the acquired land will form an L shape around Young and Jacksons Hotel with access on both Swanston and Flinders streets.
Mining techniques and boring machines will be used to connect the two stations, which means Swanston St will remain open to trams. However, surface disruption will still occur during construction.
The authority has also announced where the entrances to the two new stations will be located.
Entrances to the CBD North station are planned for Franklin St near the City Baths, on the north-west corner of the Swanston and LaTrobe streets intersection and from with Melbourne Central.
Entrances to the CBD South station are planned for the City Square near Collins St, from Federation Square near Flinders St, Flinders St Station and from somewhere in the centre of the block bounded by Elizabeth, Flinders and Swanston streets and Flinders Lane.