The Footscray community has cause for concern
about the quality of RRL works after experiencing
the reality of the new 14.7 million dollar footbridge
at Footscray station.
"7 April 2010 - Footscray Station Footbridge opens! The Department of Transport has opened the new Footscray Station footbridge. All three lifts are also operating. The Department of Transport is also constructing three new forecourts at the entrances to the footbridge at Hyde Street, McNab Avenue and Irving Street..." Source: Maribyrnong Council web site
What did we actually end up with?
In all, taxpayers spent 14.7 million dollars on a new footbridge that is less 'fit for purpose' than the one it replaced. For our money, we got a got an oversize colander - or giant horizontal cheese-grater. Adding insult to injury, the bridge will now have to be partially demolished to accommodate the new RRL train platform. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, the political and departmental spin merchants declared that this presents a chance to add escalators, forecourts and all the other features that the current bridge was supposed to offer in the first place (see: Albanese's press release). We dare to hope that the retrofit might include a roof.
So what? Isn't this just another typical example of shabby public work in Footscray? No point crying over split milk.
Well yes, but where are all the responsible project sponsors, project managers, designers and architects, building contractors and public relations people now? There's a good chance this same lot are lining up to handle further work for the Regional Rail Link and Footscray Renewal projects. Why should we have any faith in the competence of individuals and firms that brought us such a functionally broken piece of public infrastructure as 'Colander Bridge'?
For those of us who value public works and public transport, maybe it's not such a bad thing after all that the RRL project is to be thoroughly reviewed. Maybe the outcome will be vastly better than the roughshod project it was shaping up to be.
The temporary fixes for the forecourts could and should have been done before the bridge opening. For fourteen months (not including the build time) this major 'transit cities' station has looked like a slum site. By maintaining the forecourts in such a disgraceful condition for such a long period of time, the Department of Planning and Community Development and the Department of Transport effectively undermined the hard work of local traders' organisations and Maribyrnong Council in improving central Footscray.
Would this have been allowed to happen in one of the 'leafier suburbs'?
pt4me2 Better Station Survey, which placed Footscray as Melbourne's eighth-worst (see survey results). This comes more than a year after the implementation of 14.7 million dollars of station 'improvements'.
Safety and accessibility were listed as worries at Footscray station, along with the lack of ramps or escalators and the leaking roof.
The bridge designers even managed to cause a safety problem for trains: 'In November 2009 a 30 km/h speed restriction was placed on all up and down trains through the station, due to sun glare off the new bridge. The restriction applied 24 hours a day, even though it only affected trains once a day in each direction, for only a few minutes at minutes. The restriction was lifted by March/April 2010 when some unknown alterations were made to the bridge to eliminate the sun glare issue'(RailGeelong Website).
The footbridge project clearly failed to deliver on the fundamental objectives of the project (see top of page), but we won't hold our breath waiting for a proper project review. The people and organisations responsible for this fiasco are not in the habit of acknowledging and learning from their mistakes - they're too busy getting their snouts in the trough for the next round of taxpayer-funded projects.
pt4me2 Better Station