Two Greek families are in shock after being informed early this week that their family homes will need to be demolished to allow for the government’s latest level crossing removal job in the area of Bell Street in Preston.
This huge project which aims to tackle the traffic in one of the most congested areas in Melbourne, is focusing on removing the Merdna Line crossing at Bell Street and three other dangerous road-rail intersections, whilst also reconstructing the curve on Bell Street known as “Devil’s Bend”. Though the project will be of benefit to residents, the Tsagaratou family will be forced to abandon their homes and neighbourhood to allow for its completion. Their homes on Herbert Street are two of the six houses that are to be compulsory acquired and demolished by the government. It is a sad time for them as it is their family home, the house they grew up in, owned for decades by their parents, immigrants from Greece.
“The project regrettably involves land acquisition to allow the bend to be reconstructed”, stated the Level Crossing Removal Authority chief executive Kevin Delvin.
“It is never easy for those involved.”
Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan, promised that they will care and respect the Tsagaratou family and the other homeowners who will have to give up their properties to make way for the train line.
“It is never easy for those property owners and we will work carefully and respectfully with each of them,” she said, adding that the project was becoming increasingly necessary as the crossing in the Preston area were not only congested but also extremely dangerous.
There were as many as 27 incidents of near collisions between trains and vehicles in the past two years.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews stated that the project will be completed before the next state election due in November 2022, relieving congestion and creating much needed open space with the construction of a two kilometre of sky rail and the reconstruction of the stations at Bell and Preston which are due to begin next year.