The Chandler Multimodal Transport Corridor - LRT Option

Scenario for the Chandler Multimodal Transport Corridor where a new 23m wide 4 lanes only road bridge can be constructed east of the existing iron truss bridge – originally built for the Outer Circle Rail Line. Here it would be possible to separate road traffic from a new ROW LRT (light rail transit) line commencing from the existing Yarra Trams network at Kew Junction and terminating at Fairfield Stn via the proposed Alphington Park redevelopment in its first phase. Cyclist would have the option for 1.5m northbound and southbound lanes on the arterial as well as a safe shared pathway with pedestrians on a refurbished cantilevered path attached to the west side of the existing iron truss bridge – Sunset Pathway. Here road transport, high capacity public transport integration, the built and environmental heritage are all taken into account for amenity improvement for the Melbourne inter regional Cities of Darebin, Yarra and Boroondara.


It is highly likely that both the proposed Alphington Park (former AMCOR Paper Mills) redevelopment and Chandler Hwy Upgrade will be highly judged and critically assessed by many parties whom are not a part of the planning or investment contingent. There will indeed be the so called NIMBY element. However there is good cause for argument as both of these major developments are now so intertwined and are to greatly impact the amenity of the inter region of the Cities of Darebin, Yarra and Boroondara.

Problems concerning increased MIT (motorised individual transport – single car occupancy) centred on the proposed Alphington Park redevelopment

In the Alphington Park - Development Plan Fig 32 illustrates consolidated parking facilities for residents and also visitors to the commercial hub - showing a vast footprint. This is only part of the problem as the estimated number of town houses in the Park Precinct, approx 250, will be provisioned with at least two parking spaces per unit and throughout the entire site there will be additionally be on street parking included. While it is difficult to estimate how many car parking spaces there actually will be available in the entire redevelopment it would not be incorrect to say that this will far exceed perhaps 3000 private spaces alone and then there is the added inclusion of many hundreds of parking spaces available for visitors / workers. The paper gives no clear estimate of actual spaces which will be available for resident and visitor alike. However as currently all apartments will be provisioned with parking and that there is a significant commercial precinct in the redevelopment it isn’t so difficult to extrapolate this fact.

The proposed Alphington Park redevelopment when completed will house greater than 5000 residents and additionally it will attract up to 1700 jobs on site. In effect it will become a new suburb built from scratch! This large site can indeed accommodate all of the above with good planning principals. However the forecasted daily vehicular trips made to and from the planned redevelopment’s commercial and community hub is going to without any doubt impact on the existing road network as well as local residents well being or amenity. It has been estimated that far greater than 10,000 vehicular trip movements will be generated daily to and from the proposed Alphington Park redevelopment alone. Adding to an already at capacity arterial road network in the surrounding area thus compounding on an evident problem.

It is reasonable to estimate that up to 90 % of the Alphington Park residents who commute daily to work / universities etc would do so through the required use of a motor vehicle. This paints a disappointing picture when concerning MIT and road congestion for all arterial roads in the inter region of the Cities of Darebin, Yarra and Boroondara. Conclusively this renders the Alphington Park redevelopment as planned so far in context to be an unsustainable redevelopment for the 21st century when concerning transport related issues. This would also impose prohibitive costs on local government authority of Darebin since the distant City of Yarra may only be the key beneficiary due to rates sought by this council.
It is critical for the proposed Alphington Park redevelopment to address the above issues governing. If not it is certain to be the crucial factor for the overall precincts success into being realised. To my knowledge there has been no conclusive evidence to provide for sustainable planning of residential units with either no car parking spaces or options towards this better model. This scenario was tested recently on a smaller scale development in Brunswick where the Hummingbird car free apartments were taken to VCAT and lost their case. However, and while it failed to win its case, it is certain that similar such inner city developments will set a new precedence based on sustainable principals where private car ownership is of lower priority to growing numbers. As there are numerous car share schemes and for the very fact that in the not too distant future – on demand automated vehicles will be taking up the bulk of MIT road share.

It would be a progressive strategy for perhaps a 10% quota of apartments / townhouses in this redevelopment to be built, marketed and restricted to genuine car free households as a definitive pathway for sustainable urban planning. The developers should be right now pitching their sales strategy for this kind of resident to buy into their dream home as already exists a housing market for this resident and it’s only going to be on the increase. With this in mind it may present a good case for the redevelopments overall desirability – this has been done before in other new developments worldwide. Recent developments in the City of London stipulate for approx 35 % of all new houses to be car free. While at this point in time Melbourne is only a vague model to compare, the longer term projections for the Greater Melbourne (2050) is that it will be comparable in population to only a little less where London is at today – some 8 million. With the developer’s point of view in mind this could actually account for a meaningful cost saving – approx AU$15,000 to AU$30,000 in cost value per car parking space during construction. More importantly this would also promote a sincere direction towards carbon reduction, may even free up more public open space and allow for bicycle storage facilities – for those car free houses and provision for a dedicated public transit corridor reaching into the precinct its self. And this is where transport amenity should be high on the agenda. An ultimate and quite achievable strategy should be in place now in the planning stages for the Alphington Park redevelopment to be product placed as indeed a visionary project proud for offering an alternative inner city environment for a growing market of car free households and environmentally conscious medium income earners.
In the Alphington Park - Development Plan: Fig 26 illustrates that both the Chandler Highway and Heidelberg Rd will provision for new routes into the proposed precinct.

Heidelberg Rd and the Chandler Hwy, major arterial roads, are now both heavily congested most hours of the day and particularly during peak traffic periods. This will increase to even higher volumes once the project is under development and on its completion. It comes at a state of urgency now when concerning particularly the Chandler Hwy Upgrade. While technically the world’s shortest designated highway it’s certainly not the least visited by road traffic. As an arterial road giving access to either Grange Rd, the Eastern Fwy and Princess Street Kew the Chandler Hwy has become badly congested with motorised traffic as the four-lane highway is funnelled into two lanes over the Yarra River crossing. In the past few years the existing iron truss bridge on the Chandler Highway has regularly featured highly in the RACV Redspot survey of Melbourne's worst points of traffic congestion.

The Chandler Highway also provides the only Principal Bicycle Network crossing of the Yarra River between Studley Park Road and Burke Road in Kew. It is a highly dangerous route to take even for the most experienced road cyclists. While the existing two lanes iron truss bridge is ageing the Victorian Government in 2015 committed $110 million towards a new Chandler Highway Bridge. However completion of the project may not be until after 2018 since Vic Roads are still in the planning process. In 2010 Bicycle Network Victoria preferred a similar option to that below which indeed involved a new purposed built road bridge to the west of the existing iron truss structure that would become a shared bicycle and pedestrian pathway. A win for all – well not entirely!

In 2016 Vic Roads has announced that they will proceed with this 6 lanes / west of the old Chandler Bridge option (above). This proposal has surprised and mostly outraged the local community who were anticipating for a new 4 lanes only road bridge and one which they advocated to be ideally situated on the east side of the existing iron girder river crossing.

In the Vic Roads November 2015 Chandler Hwy Upgrade – Traffic Modelling Summary there are numerous flaws and a gross injustice when concerning sustainable transport integration. For a start, and they do actually admit this, that their modelling was based on the existing arterial road network where for instance the Grange Rd level rail crossing not being grade separated – which in fact is to proceed. However one principal flaw in their design parameters was that they totally neglected the 2009 Victorian Government Transport Integration Act and how such implementation of high capacity public transport systems (light rail transit) can indeed assist in road traffic congestion mitigation. While telecommuting is already transforming the work place environment Vic Roads modelling also ignored technological change rapidly approaching ie: driverless cars and other advents in automation which are highly probable and due to these events are likely to significantly reduce queue lengths on arterial roads. The Vic Roads 6 Lanes Chandler Hwy Upgrade while being spruiked as future proofing this arterial is in fact, when concerning other transport options, a bad strategy and is destined to only make things worse for the inter region – particularly for all the new residents who will call the Alphington Park redevelopment home.

While a 4 lanes option can be easily placed on either side of the existing heritage listed iron trust bridge Alphington residents have for some time now been campaigning for the new road bridge to cross the Yarra River on the east side (of existing iron truss road bridge) for improved environmental and social amenity in their community. This can involved the arterial road mainly taking its existing route south of Heidelberg Rd and passing some established houses. However well before reaching a certain Yarra River crossing point it can indeed arch eastwards via up 4400sqm of land located at the SW boundary and owned by the developers of proposed Alphington Park redevelopment site. In fact there is already a need for the government to acquire up to 5700sqm of privately owned land from the same developers along its western boundary for either of the 4 or 6 lanes road options / east or west of the existing heritage iron truss bridge. If a 4 lanes only / east option were to proceed less than 4400sqm would be required from the redevelopments SW boundary. Adding to this argument and in the 4 lanes only option, with the inclusion of 1.5m northbound and southbound bicycle lanes it would require a max width of 23m for the new road bridge structure(s) including its north and south approaches. Therefore privately owned land would need to be acquired when regarding the local residents (WARI – West Alphington Residents Inc) preferred east option or the Vic Roads preferred west option.
South of the Yarra River crossing point and in close vicinity to Guide Dogs Victoria there were concerns from their part when regarding an east option for the Chandler Hwy Upgrade. However if the 4 lanes only option / east of the existing heritage bridge does not go beyond 23m in width and is placed with a 1m clearance of the existing bridge pediment structure this new arterial roadway can indeed pass immediately beyond their property boundary. As the 6 lanes Chandler Hwy bridge will have a width of up to 28m there would the needs to acquire additional property.

Due to above the Alphington Park redevelopment plan needs going back to the drawing board regardless. And here is where it is crucial that all parties – Vic Roads, Alphington Mills partners, PTV and last by not least local community (WARI etc) have a once in a generation opportunity to make the best outcomes for the inter region as a whole.

Building new roads is not entirely the solution towards addressing the problems of road congestion in Melbourne or in any of our cities for that fact. When concerning the Chandler Hwy Upgrade and its close association with the redevelopment of the former AMCOR site (Alphington Park) it is indeed necessary for the construction of an improved arterial road corridor. However the 2016 plans for a new 6 lanes arterial is not the right strategy for future proofing and is by far not sustainable practice. By merely constructing more roads is not at all addressing the route cause to the problem. It is a known fact that some 44,000 plus vehicular trips are taken daily over the existing two lanes only iron truss bridge and it will increase as the population increases. This said a new 4 lanes only road bridge, with high priority engineering guidelines, should all but be required along with the addition of realisable transport integration via the Chandler Hwy corridor. A new 4 lanes only Chandler Hwy road bridge will indeed allow for traffic flows greater than a 200 percent increased capacity from the current number of contemporary internal combustion engine vehicles per day which use the existing iron truss 2 lanes crossing point.

A new 6 lanes river crossing for the Chandler Hwy will have a negative impact on the surrounding area if engineered primarily for motor vehicular traffic only. Firstly it will encourage greater motorist complacency and as it has been planned to be some 28m in width it will have a negative impact on the tranquillity of the Yarra River valley. This is particularly so in its planned location west of the existing iron truss bridge. It may indeed even have a negative impact on the value of properties in the surrounding area, including the vouched for Alphington Park redevelopment. Therefore in its business as usual agenda this Vic Roads preferred arterial road development will indeed have a negative flow on effect for existing road network. Even before the build up period when this arterial road nears capacity there will inevitably be impacts greatly felt at the already congested roadways of the inner core area of Melbourne.

Lastly but most alarming and due to the confines of the Chandler Hwy corridor and being so intertwined with the proposed Alphington Park redevelopment the municipalities of Darebin, Yarra and Boroondara are destined to miss out on that once in a generation opportunity for a multimodal transport corridor to be put forward via their inter region.

Alphington Park precinct as a Transit Oriented Development (TOD):

The proposed Alphington Park (former AMCOR site) redevelopment has some promising agenda when concerning EDS Design Response and overall housing types for those who are able to purchase a home there. However when it comes to public transport amenity as means for mitigation against high car dependency it is of great a concern.

A good solution to this problem of high car dependency and increasing road congestion can be through the creation of incentives set by local authorities and state governments to enact a realisable strategy for the mandate to establish TODs – transport oriented developments. This should begin with the placement of rail based transit protection corridors similar to those applied to motorways in place now since the 1969 Melbourne Transport Plan. The Melbourne Metro rail tunnel and Rowville Rail corridor are only but a few which currently exist. Through this measure and by abiding by the 2009 Transport Integration Act future proofing is more definitive.

These measures could be city transforming projects that usually only happen once in a generation. Affirmative action into tackling road congestion and car dependency must be met – dealing with the root cause and approaching technological solutions into road congestion mitigation. New protection corridors for future rail based and or bus rapid transit systems in particular should be in place right now to help reduce urban sprawl and high car dependency. Additionally carefully positioned higher housing densities in our suburbs would assist in this process as well as address the ever pressing housing affordability crisis. This cannot be solved under the same old business as usual system we have in place now. With the forecasted population increases Melbourne is to experience troubling times are ahead. Unless there is adopted a good model for genuinely sustainable urban development these issues of today will become more problematic in the not too distant future.

It is important to note that on the site of the former AMCOR Paper Mills there is at this point in time (2016) a potential transport corridor existing. This was part of the old Outer Circle Rail Line and has been planned to be built over by the current developers of the Alphington Park redevelopment. Therefore it would be crucial now that state government authorities establish a transport protection corridor before works commence on this redevelopment of the former Amcor site. If this is not met than it may in the longer term prohibit a viable orbital transit network for Melbourne’s eastern suburbs as given below. Not fulfilling this would come at a great cost to the liveability and amenity for the Cities of Yarra, Darebin and Boroondara.

When concerning the proposed Alphington Park redevelopment and further possibilities for the Chandler Hwy corridor to be integrated there is potentially a good model for and a trial test case to establish a genuinely sustainable TOD in the City of Yarra. This unfortunately isn’t the case when investigating the Development Plan 01 paper. The worst enemy to the Alphington Park redevelopment is certain to be a biased against it by populist opinion due to housing types and population density, as well as its business as usual policy towards and impacts associated to increased motor car traffic. It would be crucial in the development plan to have a serious rethink in its structural agenda to genuinely improve the liveability of the suburb it will have an impact on. It is not entirely in the numbers of people who will inhabit the redevelopment, but more so how they are provisioned within the context of an already existing suburb. It would be wise for the developers to not only carefully plan for building heights and placements, publicly accessible open spaces etc but also to enhance the liveability and amenity of the surrounding area through a better visionary approach for their proposed redevelopment.
When concerning the Alphington Park precinct as a Transit Oriented Development it can involve LRT (light rail transit). In one given option below an LRT line could be constructed via the precinct with public / private investment. In the first phase this line would commence from a street level terminus on the eastern side of Station Street above the new Fairfield Stn intermodal change, after grade separation of Grange Road and Station Street has been met and in readiness to the precincts completion. Therefore it is now possible for an LRT alignment to follow the existing Outer Circle Rail corridor, before running in cut and cover beneath the Heidelberg Rd / Chandler Hwy intersection with a seamless bicycle and pedestrian way possibly included, into and / or via the new Alphington Park precinct. Here in one scenario there can be placed approx 11.5 m beneath the Main Street a 45 m long central isle tram stop with accessible ramp, stairs and lift close to the western boundary of the redevelopment. Taking into context an ambitious target for up to 10 % car free houses and due to the fact that major earth excavations works will be required into site preparation soon it would only add minimal overall cost, with added state government infrastructure funding, for the developers through the inclusion of a grade separated and seamless LRT tunnel beneath the redevelopment zone. From here the fully ROW LRT line would continue further south and emerge at the west side of the 4 lanes arterial roadway – in context to the east of the existing bridge option. Here this LRT alignment can continue south on its own ROW crossing the existing heritage truss rail bridge spanning the Yarra River.

Immediately over on the south side of the existing heritage truss bridge there can be placed another transit stop for easy access to passengers wishing to alight for Royal Talbot Hospital, Guide Dogs Victoria and the Yarra River trails. When concerning the needs for a shared pedestrian and bicycle way with its own ROW (off the new Chandler Hwy bridge) there is possibility to upgrade the existing narrow walkway on the west side of the heritage bridge – planned to be removed. This I have called the Sunset Walkway in my scenario above and could be a non slip surface 3 m width cantilevered addition with the use of recycled iron work facing still present on the heritage bridge. A network of pathways from the new Alphington Park redevelopment and existing residences west of the Chandler Hwy would link up with the Sunset Walkway / Yarra Bend Park LRT stop and other existing paths and cycle ways. This new transit stop and shared pathway would allow uninterrupted views of the tranquil Yarra Bend Park only if the Chandler Upgrade is built on the east side. Importantly this amenity would enhance the safety and accessibility to a generally remote corner of Yarra Bend Park. 

The line would then run in a grade separated 7.4m slot south to allow for the Chandler Hwy arterial to realigns and interfaces with firstly Yarra Blv and then the Eastern Fwy access ramps. From here it would only require a 6.3m median, with the exception of given elongated accessible transit stops and a modified Princess Street median created eventually reaching Kew Junction to be integrated with the existing Yarra Trams network. In this first construction phase the LRT alignment from Fairfield Stn to Kew Junction via Alphington Park (former AMCOR site) would have a route distance of 3.8 km, offer 8 new accessible transit stops and be provisioned with both / and or ROW / traffic light control. If such an LRT network were to be realised Alphington Park residents would have a reliable transport system available within 220m of their homes with direct access to firstly Fairfield Stn or Kew Junction and beyond to such locations at Glenferrie Stn (Swinburne University), St Kilda Beach and eventually Knox City. The line in further phases could be extended out to meet with the 86 tram route / La Trobe University via Station Street Fairfield. There is also the possibility to run an additional branch via Earl Street to Kew East joining up with the 48 tram route to as far as Doncaster East. In the longer term the Earl Street route could also follow the Outer Circle Rail corridor via East Camberwell and the Alamein rail alignment to as far as Chadstone and a terminus at Monash University. There are numerous possibilities that an Eastern Suburbs LRT Network can provision for if the Alphington Park redevelopment / Chandler Hwy Upgrade are planned cohesively and are integrated into better transport operations.
With the inclusion of this ambitious transit orientated component to the overall redevelopment there would be added passenger attraction and less cars on the road. It is on the agenda to transform Melbourne’s tram network into a modernised LRT system. While some of the existing roadways would require a median for this LRT corridor there are areas where widening can take place and importantly when considering that one E class Bombardier tram has a capacity to carry 214 passengers that equates to up to 214 single occupancy vehicles off the road. With frequencies as high as every 5 minutes there would be the possibility to move up to 2568 passengers per hour via the new Alphington Park precinct’s LRT node. If for instance in context that the new precinct at Alphington Park is to generate some 10,000 plus vehicular trips per day than this gives further argument for the placement of a high capacity LRT node on site.

Alphington Park as TOD - LRT Stn footprint and new Chandler Hwy Bridge Structures.

Alphington Park LRT Stn – Indicative Design Looking North

Fact sheet for the First Phase alignment of the: Orbital and Eastern Suburbs LRT Network

Indicative route for the Orbital and Eastern Suburbs LRT Network showing all tram route numbers and railways stations it would allow for interchange with. Open in other tab for greater detail. 

Stops would be approximately 450 m apart and the line would have an operational speed of greater than 30 km/ph – the anticipated average speed for the Melbourne tram system (currently only at 19km/ph). Importantly this integrated LRT Network in later phases would allow passenger interchange from one single route number to all other radial rail, tram and bus lines in Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs. For instance the line may eventually be extended to La Trobe University and Melbourne Airport with a terminate at St Kilda Beach, while other branches could take the line to Doncaster Hill and Knox City – with all routes via the Alphington Park TOD.

0022.5 m – Fairfield Stn / LRT Stop (Is Platform / east of Station St. Intermodal at street level and in Civic Square above new grade separated station in cut)

LRT alignment follows Outer Circle Rail corridor (ROW / existing power sub-station repositioned)

0460 m - The Grange LRT Stop (Side Platforms / Outer Circle / Perry Street, Alphington)

0482.5m / AHD33m – VRG: 1.23% - 0670m / AHD27.5m

LRT alignment enters NW Portal and passes beneath the intersection of Heidelberg Rd / Chandler Hwy though 7.4m width cut and cover box tunnel with the optional addition of a 3m width shared pathway to the Alphington Park precinct for cyclist and pedestrians using the Outer Circle Trail.

0670m / AHD27.5m – VRG: 5.04% - 0927.5m / AHD14.5m  

0950 m – Alphington Park LRT Stop (Sub-surface Is Platform beneath Main St with north and south egress. Optional underpass linking west side of Chandler Hwy)

0972.5m / AHD14.5m – VRG: 3.59% - 1140m / AHD20.5m

LRT alignment exits South Portal immediately south of Rex Ave with ROW on the west boundary of Chandler Hwy. LRT alignment crosses over the restored heritage truss bridge on its own ROW. Existing kerbs removed for Yarra Trams compliancy allowing for a 7.4m corridor. Outer Circle Rail Line bridge heritage retained with installation of modern compliance overhead wire system.

1140m / AHD20.5m – VRG: 0.5% - 1240m / AHD20m 

1400 m – Yarra Bend Park LRT Stop (Side Platforms immediately south of heritage truss bridge structure / separated from new Chandler Hwy 4 lanes / east option)                    

LRT alignment runs via 7.4m slot to the realigned Chandler Hwy median. Chandler Hwy to Yarra Blv and Guide Dogs Victoria access roads realigned further south and grade separated from LRT alignment. Traffic light control at Eastern Fwy access ramps

1425m / AHD20m – VRG: 1.86% - 1640m / AHD24m  

1900 m – Willsmere LRT Stop (Elongated side platforms / intermodal above proposed Doncaster Rail Line / Eastern Fwy)

Traffic light control at intersection of Chandler Hwy and Princess Street 

2390 m – Hutchinson Dr LRT Stop (Elongated side platforms in new Princess Street median Kew)                                       

2880 m – Willsmere Road LRT Stop (Elongated side platforms in new Princess Street median Kew)    

3380 m – A’Beckett Street LRT Stop (Elongated side platforms in new Princess Street median Kew)   

3930 m – Kew Junction LRT Stop (Elongated side platforms in High St – tram # 48, 109 routes)              

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