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No word on 'preparatory works'

posted Jun 28, 2011, 11:05 PM by Site Editor   [ updated Aug 21, 2011, 7:33 PM ]
Update: The RRL Authority eventually provided a partial answer to our questions, in the form of an 'FAQ' booklet distributed in July.

More than 40 days after putting our request, we are still waiting for the RRL Authority to get back to us with a complete list of RRL 'preparatory works'. Residents were surprised, several weeks ago, to learn of the existence of this category of works. Apart from the major Metro track realignment works, we've not been told what other works will roll out in advance of the main RRL works.

It is hard to fathom why this information should be so long in coming. In the absence of timely information, residents are understandably nervous about what awaits them.

In the midst of this uncertainty Middle Footscray residents were awakened last Saturday night (25th), and every night since, by the noise of major construction works. There was no advance notification of these extensive - and very noisy - night works.

Residents understand that that construction noise is an unavoidable aspect of the project and they have steeled themselves to cope with substantial construction impacts over the next 5 years. However, it would assist people greatly to be provided advance warning of works so they can prepare accordingly. This doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Upon enquiry, the RRLA responded to say that "RRLA was not responsible for the work that you describe over the weekend in Footscray".

A phone call to Metro Trains had a Metro official telling us that the works around Middle Footscray were "preparatory works for the regional rail project" and that the works were scheduled to occur over 5 nights. Metro staff were not sure why notification had not made it to residents, but said they'd investigate. For any further information we were given a direct number for someone at  RRLA.

We advised the RRLA of this information from Metro. The subsequent response from RRLA: "..The work on the weekend...was not part of the preparatory works for the RRL but forms part of the Metro Trains Melbourne maintenance program." "[RRLA] apologise for the mis-information and will ask that Metro keep us informed about who, where and when information is provided to the community ahead of carrying out their regular maintenance works."

RRLA also forwarded a copy of the Metro works announcement leaflet (the one residents didn't receive). The leaflet advises that the works are for the purpose of replacing timber sleepers with new concrete sleepers. A media release from Mr Mulder, on 17th May, lists the Metro sleeper replacement work as part of a coordinated package of works announced under the banner of the 'kick-off' of RRL construction. Given its mention in the Minister's media release, It would be splitting hairs very finely indeed to claim that this work is not associated with the RRL. The only apparent variation  being that the works have occurred earlier than the July 1st commencement date indicated.

RRLA was created as an entity within DoT so as to ensure close coordination with other relevant transport agencies. The 'not our bailiwick' responses from RRLA on this issue appear inconsistent with the intended role of the RRLA and with the Minister's statements regarding the overall coordination of works. It is also inconsistent with the frequently put statement from RRLA that: "RRL is committed to providing advance notice to residents of the timing and nature of construction works associated with the RRL project."