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As months of 24/7 Upfield line works loom, residents still want answers

“We had basic design tweaks that could have solved lots of problems and they completely ignored us,” Mr Conlan said.

Commuters will be able to access stations via a raised crossing at Reynard Street and will be given traffic light priority at Munro Street, but calls from the resident group for this to be rolled out at Moreland Road and Bell Street were not met.

“It’s the ‘Upfield Wave’ — when the boom gates are down and people can ride their bikes and walk across the crossings … but if you remove these crossings and don’t provide priority for bikes and pedestrians, they will be disadvantaged by the project,” Mr Conlan said.

He said moving Moreland station further south so it straddled Moreland Road would have improved access to the station, a nearby bus interchange and tram stop and saved 100 trees from being felled at Gandolfo Gardens, but this option proposed by residents was also ignored.

The $542.4 million project will deliver improvements for cyclists by widening the popular Upfield bike path, separating cyclists and pedestrians between Moreland Road and Bell Street.

It will also create 2.5 kilometres of parkland and open space in a part of Melbourne crying out for more greenery.

But residents say they have seen only indicative designs and don’t even know how high the rail line will be, despite works starting within months.

Rob Hoffman and his son, Harry, pose for a photo outside their Coburg home.

Rob Hoffman and his son, Harry, pose for a photo outside their Coburg home.Credit:Darrian Traynor

Level Crossing Removal Project staff promised to provide virtual reality goggles so they could stand in front of the site and see the designs, but this never occurred.

“The plans don’t show enough detail,” Mr Conlan said. “They’re vague renders, pastel-coloured things with nothing identified.”

Resident Rob Hoffman supports the sky rail project and said the creation of more parkland is why he bought his property beside the rail line in 2018.

But Mr Hoffman, who is among residents of 300 properties being relocated during the works, said the extent of the works was not disclosed early on, and he has had to chase up staff at the agency “every step of the way” about his relocation, with calls and emails sometimes not returned for a week.

Anger over the Upfield line works comes as Kingsville residents enduring overnight works for the West Gate Tunnel say their lives have been turned upside down by the deafening pounding.

The West Gate Tunnel Project didn’t offer Julie Richards the option of relocating despite her property being 150 metres away from loud hydro-blasting overnight works throughout April and the first half of May, which sounded like a “seismic boom”, she said.

The project moved Ms Richards to a hotel for a few nights, but only after she complained. When she returned home, she was offered a white noise machine, but she said it sounded like a jack hammer.

“It’s like a Utopia episode,” Ms Richards said, noting this has added to the stress of working from home during COVID-19. “If we weren’t in a pandemic it would be comical.”

A West Gate Tunnel Project  spokeswoman said the reduction in cars on the road meant the project could change the works, starting later and finishing earlier in the evening.

“In addition, we have offered respite options, including temporary relocation, which a number of households have taken up.”

The project director at the Level Crossing Removal Project, Matt Thorpe, said the agency was working closely with the community on the Upfield line upgrades.

“We have a dedicated team working with local residents to make sure we’re offering respite and relocation based on their needs and requirements.”

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