Hobsons Bay City Council has put forward practical solutions to pedestrian and commuter safety at the Ferguson Street Crossing removal after consulting with its community.

I want to commend the Williamstown Crossing Group and individuals who have fed us their views on where we should go on the level crossing removal.

The Labor Government has always said the removal of this crossing was about creating pedestrian safety and to ease vehicle traffic delays currently caused by the boom gates being down.

The HBCC position addresses both of these concerns in its Precinct Plan for the North Williamstown Station, adopted by the Council on August 11, 2020.

You can have a look at the plan here.

There is a lot of detail in there but some parts have yet to be refined, such as the car park. But you get the overall picture.

You will see the section of Ferguson St/Kororoit Creek Rd from Station St to the east and Champion Rd to the west of the crossing has been shaded in grey. That’s because the jury is still out on whether we should have traffic lights in there or roundabouts.

My view is that it should be roundabouts, because if you put traffic lights in there, you are back to the problem you initially had in impeding traffic flows.

One of the sensible ideas that has emerged is the extension of the underground platforms further south under Ferguson St/Kororoit Creek Road. If you put exits at those southern ends and steps/ramps/escalators/lifts on the southern side of roadway, that means anyone coming from Railway Place, Victoria St or the Rifle Range Estate could safely get to and from the  platforms without having to cross the road.

That would eliminate a vast number of the current stoppages due to pedestrians pushing the traffic signals.

So our solution is better for pedestrian safety, better for traffic flow, better for everyone.

If you don’t do this, public safety is at risk unless you put in traffic signals, but that just impedes traffic flow — which defeats the Government’s whole rationale for undertaking the project in the first place!

Another area where we are at loggerheads with the LXRA include the retention of the heritage rail buildings. LXRA wants to demolish the east rail building, despite their own surveys showing that overwhelmingly, the people of Williamstown want to keep their heritage building.

We must work to retain each of those buildings.

Another point of difference is the amount of cover over the top of the underground rail platforms. The council wants to extend the area to the south to Ferguson St and to the north to allow better cyclist and pedestrian movements from Power St to Champion Rd and beyond. It will provide a more amenable and safer space.

Our officers have costed the designs, including the platform extensions and they reckon it would be about $11 million. Not bad when you consider the average level crossing removal is $178 million across the city!

The LXRA is completely aware of our suggestions but is not engaging with the Council over these plans. It has been to meet with Council a number of times in what I would regard as sham consultation.

It’s now up to the Labor Government to make it happen for the logical benefit of all. After all, it has always maintained they were carrying out these level crossing removals for public safety reasons.