Council confusion over Cave Hill Rd

Yarra Ranges Council was not consulted before the decision to close Cave Hill Road was made by the State government. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 243319_02

By Mikayla van Loon

News of the Cave Hill Road level crossing being closed came as quite a shock to Yarra Ranges Council.

In response, Melba Ward councillor Sophie Todorov put forward an urgent motion at the 10 August council meeting to contact the State government about the decision.

“This will create significant traffic and pedestrian issues in this particular area and the latest decision has not been made with further consultation from the council or the community,” Cr Todorov said.

A community survey had been conducted in October 2019 to receive community feedback about the Cave Hill Road level crossing.

“The majority of the community responded that there was a strong desire to keep this crossing open. This response was relayed back to the Level Crossing Removal Authority.”

The council had highlighted the need for a solution that allowed both road traffic and the railway line to coexist.

Currently Cave Hill Road is the main entryway to the industrial estate on Melba Avenue, for buses and school community traffic entering Lilydale High School, for needing to access the former Lilydale Quarry site which is under redevelopment, as well as for traffic accessing the Box Hill Institute campus in Melba Avenue and general traffic circulating in the area.

Billanook Ward councillor Tim Heenan was in full support of Cr Todorov’s motion and was disappointed the council’s concerns for this closure had not been listened to by the Level Crossing Removal Authority.

“It’s been a lot for the people of Lilydale to bear with the Level Crossing Removal Authority doing what they’ve needed to do over the last few months,” he said.

“Certainly, no one denies the upgrade to Mooroolbark and Lilydale stations was something that was badly needed but there has been substantial interference with people’s lives in relation to the movement of traffic around that whole area.”

Cr Heenan said not only was he greatly concerned about the traffic from the schools and industrial estate, as well as the influx of cars from the Kinley development but also from other joining roads.

“The Lilydale Marketplace Shopping Centre has two entrances and exits, one obviously coming out onto Melba but one coming out onto John/Hardy,” Cr Heenan said.

“Now the one on John/Hardy is a very small neck coming out there. My great concern is once this happens and there is no upgrading of the traffic control systems at the intersection of Hardy and Melba, it’s going to cause people within that shopping centre to gridlock.”

“I just can’t see, unless it is done with the control of the traffic and movements of the traffic, particularly as they move past that and out onto Maroondah Highway, this just not going to cause absolute heartache for years and years to come.”

Cr Todorov requested of her fellow councillors to support a motion that would see a letter written to the Premier and the transport infrastructure minister advising of the council’s and communities concerns.

“And [for the council to] request for a comprehensive traffic study be carried out before any decision or further announcement is made about the future of this crossing,” Cr Todorov said.

The Cave Hill Road closure was announced on 29 July as part of 10 more level crossings which are to be removed by 2025.

Other works include the removal of the Dublin Road Ringwood East and Coolstore Road Croydon crossings, with new stations also being built at Ringwood East and Croydon.

Should Cave Hill Road be closed, it would mean the Lilydale line would be level crossing free by 2025.