St Kilda Road alternate site, Submission by James Hayton

This submission sums up succinctly what most people have been talking about through this process.

Submitted by James Hayton. St Kilda Rd 3004.

Thank you for giving me time to discuss Metro rails proposal for the new station at the suggested site of the Domain.

You have by now listened to weeks of legalese from lawyers and their appointed experts. This is from a threatened resident, and from the heart. Let me start by assuring you that we are not what we call “The I’m against it, what is it? Brigade,” nor Nimby’s. We understand the need for the tunnel to be built, We certainly don’t believe they have got the preferred location for Domain Station right.

Hopefully we can give the Premier and his Government a chance to say, “We can listen, when you have something worth considering.” We believe the proposed location of the station at The Domain is one such case. We were for many months fed bits and pieces of information about their proposals, mainly irrelevant fluff. Only in the final weeks did they elect to drop the bombshell, on how badly we will be affected. Cynically one could well believe that their hope is that they can cry, “It’s too late” for change.

Personally, I have had the privilege to be involved in a few tunnel constructions, amongst them Sydney and Boston Harbours tunnels, both done without destroying half of the city. London, for instance, has almost completed a tunnel right across the City, with minimum interference to city life. This approach in Melbourne, with all of the modern technology available, would be to say the least cheap and nasty, more concerned with saving cost, at a disastrous effect on human beings. That being said, it doesn’t make any sense at all in this case, with the savings being more than offset by the huge cost involved in the destruction and resurrection of St Kilda Rd and its surrounds. It would take at least twenty years to regain its present status.

Fortunately for us, and hopefully for the project, amongst we afflicted are a handful of very the experienced, or highly qualified Engineers who have the knowledge, particularly local knowledge, and experience to challenge this choice of location. Where to begin though, is the problem. Because the present choice is flawed from start to finish.

The decision to construct the station in the middle of St Kilda Road directly under around 400 metres of the busiest tramway in Melbourne, and possibly the world, open cut at that, with the total destruction of around a Hectare of St Kilda Road, at one of its busiest stretches, is a fair place to start. The chaos that this will cause, beggars belief.

Let us examine a section of the disaster as a start. Reducing eight lanes of traffic (four lanes each way) to perhaps only one lane each way, can only be a disaster in the making. As stated it involves spending millions of dollars to destroy St Kilda Road and its some 250 mature trees, then many more millions making restorations. Making changes to surrounding roads to divert traffic, with parking restrictions just about everywhere.

Closing the entry to Bowen Crescent makes one believe that no competent Traffic Engineer could possibly, have been asked to look at it. If they have, then he she or they have failed to understand its implications, possibly due to lack of local knowledge. I don’t wish to be tedious, but I have to go into detail, to make sure that at least consequences of the proposed closures are on record and understood. Let me explain. The Bowen Crescent is an enclave bounded by St Kilda Rd and Kingsway, which contains no less than eleven multi storied parking stations, six of which open directly into a narrow lane called Queens Lane. At present the main and only realistic exit for drivers heading for the city, or west from Bowen Crescent, is by Bowen Street, leading into the Saint Kilda Road service lane.

At present each working day there is a queue of cars attempting to join that already very busy road, many of these being from the multi-storied offices of St Kilda Road Towers, which has over 600 suites, and around 3000 visitors a day. This is the very exit to be closed. It is inevitable that many, or even most tenants currently operating from the enclave will seek new and friendlier offices to run their businesses. With the closing of that exit, two of the remaining three exits are accessible only to cars heading south on Kingsway.

The only exit available for drivers wishing to head to the city would now be Queens Lane itself. That involves turning across three lanes of traffic into Kingsway, a perilous move near a blind corner that few care to attempt even today. This will also be the only entrance available for drivers wishing to access Bowen Crescent from Kingsway when approaching from the east or south. Let us look at Queen’s lane as it stands. A two lane, lane, with at present one lane being continually occupied as a “loading zone” and will vitally need to remain so.

This even now results in traffic in both directions having to share the one remaining lane, involving generous giving way by drivers. Imagine if this one lane is the only access and exit available to the city fed by the eleven multi-storey car parks, it will and must be total deadlock. As it is at present, people with “local knowledge” approaching from the south and east do not attempt to turn into Queens Lane from the Kingsway, being a perilous manoeuvre dodging cars coming in the opposite direction racing round that almost blind corner. Instead they elect to access Queens Lane by a circuitous route using the St Kilda Rd service lane then turning left at Bowen Street, this will no longer be an option. The only access to Queens Lane will be to make that right hand turn from Kingsway. As pointed out though, it is also the only one lane in the opposite direction for cars also wishing to access Kingsway to the city.

Add to this cars exiting from Queens Lane south also wishing to join the Kingsway in both directions, it will be impossible and chaotic. Over five years it will be inevitable that there will be accidents, with injuries, possibly fatal.

To prevent this absolute mayhem drastic changes would need to be made, both within Bowen Crescent itself, the Kingsway and surrounds. Add the closing of the adjacent Bowen Lane, also feeding into St Kilda Road. The mayhem at Albert Road probably including the destruction of the Boer War Memorial, the closing of the entries to both Park Street and Domain Road, the rerouting of the number 8 tram, involving the ripping up of a large section of Toorak Road to lay fresh tram tracks, and lastly but certainly not the least, the abolition of all parking in Saint Kilda Road.

That will most certainly mean around a dozen small businesses over such a prolonged period of time will go to the wall and may well include the famous Royce Hotel. The Melbourne Grammar School will also be very seriously compromised; one must presume that construction noise will severely affect study for several terms, whilst their underground car park at present entering and exiting into Saint Kilda Road, may well be neutered.

All of this without mention of the impact on thousands of human beings. Many of the people who will be seriously affected, are the elderly (I include myself amongst them) and will not live to see their lives returned to normalcy. With the total removal of parking, some may even suffer a premature end, due to the lack of emergency access close to where they live for ambulances and fire engines etc. I imagine, (certainly to my own knowledge) that the choice of this location may well badly affect more people, over a longer time, than any other project in Melbourne’s history.

A more educated location for The Domain Metro Rail Station must be looked for with fresh eyes.

Fortunately as previously mentioned, there are people with skills knowledge, and more importantly local knowledge, and who are all in accord with a suggestion of a much more suitable location.

In my second submission I will attempt to explain this in full. Meanwhile, do you have any questions for me?

Second Session. Submitted by James Hayton 127/418 St Kilda Rd. 3004

When we were hit with the full implications of what was to be inflicted upon us, several residents’ qualified, or experienced in construction naturally started seeking an alternative and more sensible site. With the production and distribution of a map by one energetic resident, we came to realise that without exception we all had the same site in mind. That surely must have significance!

The site selected by us, would be situated in the western side of the Domain Park adjacent to Saint Kilda Road reaching from the Domain tram station, north towards the city. This site would appear to be ideal in several ways.

Mainly because it would involve no interference at all to Saint Kilda Road, the destruction of the Domain tram station recently updated at a cost in excess of 12 million dollars, and not the least residents or businesses. I was told at the information meeting, when questioning the choice of location for the station, that several sites were considered before the final choice was made, so it was reasonable to presume that one of those sites would have included in The Domain Park. We were concerned that perhaps the reason for MMR or the Government not placing the station in The domain Park was because of an objection, or possible objection by the guardians of The Shrine.

We understand and take into consideration that certain areas of ground surrounding the Shrine are sacrosanct, and must remain so, but investigation suggests that this does not extend to the area we propose as a better location for the new station.

Another possible concern may be that the Shrine sits on a hill that was built on fill in order to elevate it. However the excavation will be well away from The Shrine, and there are many tried and trusted means to well protect the stability of the building. Sheet piling being one of the obvious choices, or bored Caissons, or Frozen earth techniques, or a combination of any. There will I’m afraid be a handful of trees to be sacrificed, but a handful to save hundreds seems almost fitting for the sanctity of the place, symbolic of what the Shrine stands for. All up, there would appear to be no valid reason why the station could not placed in the location we suggest. The “Cobbers” statue would need to find a temporary new home, although this would also apply to the present proposed site entrance.

Dare I suggest that should the station be placed where we propose then presumably the main entrance to the station would be at the corner of St Kilda and Domain roads? It would be a fitting place to re-instate the “Cobbers” statue to make a fine entrance to what must surely be named “The Shrine” or perhaps “Anzac” station. An additional bonus could be that in this location, seeing as the platforms pass by and alongside The Shrine, the station concourse could be extended to reach The Shrine, and by means of lifts give direct access from the station to The Shrine. Extended west to open up at Saint Kilda Road, it would also give through access, from tram to station and Shrine. This would surely be a great asset for The Shrine, especially for veterans, the disabled, the elderly, or indeed anyone visiting the Shrine. Naturally this would at the discretion and approval of The Shrine Committee.

Much concern has been expressed from other expert opinion about truck noise, reversing beepers, dust and dirt invasion etc. Excavation in Domain Park would negate almost all of this fear. No concrete to be “Jack hammered” and it would be a simple matter to keep soil dampened, if and as necessary, whilst direct exit, presumably by Domain Rd, would be very much simplified, direct from excavation and on its way. In the past, whenever I have taken on an unfamiliar project, it was my practise to make a “Pro’s and Con’s” list. This would be my list for this project.

First the Pro’s.

1/. No destruction to Saint Kilda Road or its trees or disturbance to the flowing and everyday business of Saint Kilda Road.

2/. Very little if any disturbance to thousands of local residents’ or businesses.

3/. The unquestionable saving of hundreds of millions of taxpayers money. At the very least half a billion dollars, probably a lot more.

4/. No litigation from dozens of affected residents and businesses, instead of the many already being drawn up, that could go on for years and years.

5/. Destruction of only a handful of mature trees instead of hundreds.

6/. The saving of hundreds of thousands of lost business hours, through traffic chaos, over five years or so.

7/. Creation of a great asset to The Shrine.

8/. No desecration of The Boer War monument.

9/. No temporary accommodation required for residents affected by construction.

10/. No need to make diversions, and unnecessary road works on surrounding roads. Punt road, Kingsway, Birdwood Avenue etc.

11/. There are probably more, but isn’t this enough?

The Con’s.

1/. A loss of face for the originators of the current proposal.

2/. A re-design of around 50% of The Concourse. The platform level presumably, would be pretty much unchanged.

3/. ? I really can’t think of any.

Summing up, this is a “no brainer.” Unless MMR and the Government can come up with a solid valid reason why the station cannot be situated in The Domain Park, they will have to explain to the taxpayer and the opposition, how they can justify not saving a conservative half a billion, (almost certainly a lot more) of taxpayer’s dollars. Avoid the cost of defending no end of litigation already promised, as well as showing compassion for people, businesses and the protecting of the environs. THINK ABOUT IT.