The tragic death of a rail passenger last November at the Abbotts Road level crossing started a conversation with Committee for Dandenong members which included a previous death at this crossing in 2008 and indeed the levels of frustration experienced by workers, the travelling public and businesses which operate in this area of Dandenong South. Everyone had a story to tell of late deliveries, appointments, meetings and indeed road rage caused by the sheer volume of traffic which uses Abbotts Road. However none of these daily frustrations come close to the loss of lives.
As a community based group of business people concerned with promoting the image of Dandenong both as the centre of manufacturing excellence and a great place to do business and employ people; the Committee for Dandenong felt that this was an urgent issue which needed a solution which would solve both issues by making Abbotts Road safer and the businesses more productive.
The Committee spoke with representatives of the City of Greater Dandenong and Vic Roads who were very much aware of the issues involved with the level crossing at Abbotts Road and the traffic congestion problems. A meeting is currently being planned with Committee for Dandenong, City of Greater Dandenong and Vic Roads officers to canvass all options including the construction of an overpass linking the two sections of Remington Drive (which runs off Abbotts Road) to link in directly with Pound Road and the freeway. This would be a solution that the Committee for Dandenong would support and encourage.
The demand for infrastructure and the prioritizing of black spot projects means that an innovative solution needs to be found as currently this site is not in the top 10 priorities within the state. The Committee for Dandenong has taken the view that the best way to improve the priority of this project within the budget process is not to wait for more deaths or argue about lost productivity.
The Committee believes a new funding approach should be considered and is currently investigating the financial feasibility of providing this infrastructure through private tolling. When the costs of large trucks sitting idle along Abbotts Road with associated damage to the environment and to our competitiveness are taken into account together with the ability to have reliable access to this area during working hours and the simple amenity of allowing a worker to get to work and home to their families safely is taken into account then this is a problem which could justify this type of solution.
The pending meeting is a positive step in the right direction. Vic Roads and the Council are critical participants in moving this project forwards and, with the help of the Committee for Dandenong, that is the desired outcome.
Chair – Committee for Dandenong