What if there was another way?

By John Dall'Amico

The Melbourne Metro Rail project, when completed, will transform the way that we move around the city of Melbourne and beyond. Travelling will be easier, faster once the proposed rail network is finished in 2026. 

The Metro Rail Authority proposes to take over our City Square to construct the CBD South station from next January and plans to occupy it until 2023 and possibly beyond.

100 trucks per day will haul spoil (excavated material) and cart it out of the CBD along Swanston and Collins streets.

The City Square will be used as a construction site for the best part of a decade. There will be no trees, no public access, no community activities, no open space. It is envisaged that there will be dust, noise and congestion.

What if there was a better way to construct this project? What if there was a strategy in place that didn’t dig up and destroy the City Square, Swanston St and the CBD for the next eight to 10 years?

We understand $11 billion has been set aside for this infrastructure project. Already there are little white huts popping up around the city doing preliminary drilling tests to see what really lies below our feet. MMRA has $1 billion allocated for pre-construction works.

What if there was a way to build this project on time, on budget without destroying the centre of the world’s most liveable city?

What if we could work under the city, dragging out rocks and rubble via conveyor belts to a convoy of waiting trucks outside the CBD, and construct the station from underground.

Would this not lessen the impact of building this important project with barely a peep from above, maintaining the lifestyle we have all grown to love in our city.

The city of Delhi, India did just that a few years ago. An emerging economy using world’s best practices to build an underground rail network with minimum disruption.

They completed Stage One of the country’s new subway system almost entirely from below the surface. All within budget and ahead of time.

Let’s be clear on one thing. Without doubt we need more modern, faster public transport, but let’s be smart. Let’s use the very best skills and expertise we can muster. And let’s not destroy our city that finally is ticking along in harmony.

Swanston Street works and the City Square is the only open space in the CBD for people to enjoy. What if we can preserve that space, preserve the ambiance of the city for residents, businesses and tourists?

“What ifs” are possible. All it takes is a little ingenuity and thinking outside the box by the people in charge. As Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

What if we were leaders?

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