Outraged Bayswater residents are demanding answers to a “surprise” viaduct design proposed for the northern residential suburb as part of the State Government’s $1 billion Morley-Ellenbrook rail line project.
The Bayswater Residents Against the Viaduct Option campaign is calling for project provider Metronet to justify the need for the viaduct, which has been offered as a solution for connecting the wider 21km rail network into Bayswater.
An online information session revealed that the concrete-clad structure could reach 10m elevation at its highest point near Clavering Road, raising concerns about visual intrusion into surrounding properties and noise pollution.
Metronet documents indicated that the elevated rail proposal would maintain roads in Bayswater’s industrial area to prevent unnecessary oversized vehicle passage through the suburb’s residential town centre.
Design plans for the 750m-long viaduct connection between Bayswater Station and Tonkin Highway were first released to the public in late June.
In a separate project intended to prepare for work on the viaduct connection, Bayswater Station is set to undergo major upgrades scheduled for later this year.
BRAVO campaign representative Malaika Jordan said little public consultation had been undertaken and the elevated concrete viaduct was an inadequate solution to the Morley-Ellenbrook line connection with Bayswater Station.
“We can’t get any information out of Metronet about the project,” Ms Jordan said.
“We were asking things about whether a visual impact study had been done, what this thing was going to look like, how much noise it was going to put out – all these questions and [the Metronet representative] just couldn’t answer any of our questions.”
Ms Jordan’s and four fellow campaigners door knocked nearly 500 homes to find out what people thought and said that around 75 per cent of the people they had spoken to had not heard anything about the viaduct.
The campaign was supported by community group Future Bayswater, which last week filed a 1000-plus signature petition to the Legislative Council calling for an independent review and redesign of the Bayswater Station project and relocation of the Bayswater Connection viaduct.
Future Bayswater chair Paul Shanahan said the group had been in discussion with Metronet for many years and believed the project’s economic and transport plan would deliver the beneficial outcomes needed for Bayswater Town Centre’s revitalisation.
However he did not believe the current design for the Baywater Station upgrade nor Morley-Ellenbrook viaduct connection would achieve those goals.
“We’re being told there is no other way that this Morley-Ellenbrook line can be brought into and out of Bayswater,” Mr Shanahan said.
“Well, we’d question that. Please prove us wrong.”
While both Future Bayswater and the BRAVO campaign have insisted they are not opposed to change, they say big infrastructure projects, such as these, are designed to last 120 years and need to be done right the first time.
“We believe in our town centre and its revitalisation,” Mr Shanahan said.
“If we don’t think it’s going to achieve that, we’re not going to support it.”
Five other design alternatives for the viaduct connection were considered but ultimately discounted due to technical challenges, land and service impacts and road connectivity.
A contractor for the Morley-Ellenbrook viaduct connection is expected to be appointed by the end of 2020, with detailed architecture and track design work to follow.