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  • Fitzroy and Acland Street Murder

    Tram route experiment spells end for many traders

    Consultation under pressure



    Both Fitzroy Street and Acland Street will be going through another bout of road, tramway and streetscaping sometime in 2014, most likely after
    he summer peak, the exact date will be announced after community consultation and delivery of a report to the Minister.

    The last 2 occasions this occurred most businesses I have spoken to reported losing $20,000 minimum in turnover and it was the nail in the coffin for many more. Splitting the suburb in half with the raised tramways has caused very measurable financial difficulties for traders on an ongoing basis.

    I don't believe they necessarily came to the table willingly but have gone to a lot of trouble to diagram and explain their principles behind the changes.


    Consultation to 'soothe' community objections from previous debacles

    I went along to this public consultation event at St Kilda bowling club this morning around 11 am and I found myself alone with the 3 very nice young people from Yarra Trams, Vic Roads and Public Transport Authority who made it clear to me that they have set up the consultation process to provide all the information the local community require, and also that the plans that they had on the table were the choices in front of us, with a very little room for negotiation in the formatting of this new platform in Fitzroy Street (there are 2 different layouts offered) and a terminus at the end of Acland Street, which has 3 designs on offer that have a little room for negotiation through consultation and community opinion.

    Then a 4th appeared and was all over me like a storm trooper as I queried the validity of what was happening to Fitzroy Street, it ended with me getting quite heated and expressing myself louder than necessary to match his aggressive bullying. His fellows then informed him I was actually reporting on the project and was told my name he recognised it, as lawn bowler and he is member of the St Kilda Sports Club. His tune changed, but damage done and further investigation sheds light on other aggressive behaviour.

    Although the other 3 were extremely hospitable and well versed in their message, all from the different authorities, it became clear by this fellows behaviour that they are simply going to do as they will with Fitzroy Street.

    I ask the question, is there a conflict of interest or otherwise benefit here from this personal association with both the club and the investigation of the local communities views. It was Les that was sprouting the figures of a survey of 300 people on a Thursday in Acland Street during winter that is the basis of their opinion for the streetscaping to go on there.

    No point shooting the messengers I suppose, so, in goodwill, they parroted the fact that Route 96 was to be the first route completed with full level access throughout the full length, something planned for the whole of the system over time and we have to understand this will be wonderful for Melbourne allowing access for wheelchairs and prams everywhere, yet crippling vehicle access and parking availability right throughout the suburb of St Kilda seemed also quite OK, if not part of an overall strategy in the larger inner city by the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne planners.

    Mind you the proposed changes mean that one stop at Canterbury Road will be removed from Fitzroy Street, as will the stop at Alma Street.

    The new super stop is to be built right in the middle of the Paris end of Fitzroy Street, a precinct that contains the last remnants of retail and a number of top end restaurants and hotels on the 16/3/3a route to facilitate the St Kilda Station stop for wheelchairs and prams. It is also being built in between the only 2 public car parks on the built up side of Fitzroy.

    They argued that the traders up there would benefit from the extra traffic but again misinformed and unaware that extra through traffic will only create problems for traders in this little niche area that has built a more exclusive edge.

    We have reported previously about the havoc the tramways and the bike track have created in the rest of Fitzroy street with two bottle necks already in place. I'll embed this again for you to have a look.

    When I asked about traffic control at St Kilda Road and signage to best direct traffic around already under signed and over used through routes they had no response and wiggled uncomfortably.

    This is what happens when you don't fight for cars and personal access from the metropolitan area...locals should be on notice we live in an iconic local Victorian, national and international tourism suburb, which is seasonal like so many others around the globe. The local council has to take responsibility as well for not offering earlier notice in all these occasions, so I will be looking to our elected ward representative to be taking a leading role in making sure that this time around we get some access back to the street if nothing else. Find a budget and do a real survey, speak to ALL the traders and get their opinions

    Others countries glorify this reality our masters seem intent on strangling the life out of the old girl and shutting her down, at least on a retail or food and entertainment basis.

    According to figures thrown at me there are 950+ car spaces near Acland Street and 300+ servicing Fitzroy Street. Absolutely no more parking will come from these new additions, just additional losses of car spaces and a cutting off, pressured or restricted access to those that are in existence. Over 50 car spaces will be removed directly from Acland Street and the Street turned basically into a mall, definitely a car no go area.

    Gridlock

    So I see 3 new obstacles there to add to the already catastrophic street long car park created in summer here by the last time they they reshaped the middle of The Street by raising the tram tracks. Cars will have to funnel into one lane to pass the tram stop and also have to negotiate potential queues entering public car parks at either end, and 1 of the options cutting access from the north altogether to the car park opposite in the park next to the bowling club and SKIPPS.

    This offer of consultation which is to take place over the next 6 weeks was unfortunately not very well publicised as the planned print run for the letterbox drop was not supplied by the printers on time to be distributed. The material shows maps and full illustrations of the changes and is fully understandable. So a first attempt at transparency has been stymied for them and us, pick one up if you can find it.

    Once the process is complete the 3 partners in construction will report to the minister's department for him to decide on the right mix based on what the community majority want for the streets.

    Fitzroy Street has already been cut down from 2 lanes to 1 and traders have bled up to $25,000 each in loss of trade with no chance of compensation every time this type of construction occurs. It is the traders who need to be consulted on these issues as they are the ones whose livelihood is directly affected by this social engineering going on right now.

    Wouldn't it be easier to just run the tracks backwards into St Kilda Station with a track chicane to get the trams on the right track to go down Fitzroy Street? Too easy? There is a ton of space to use as a depot also beside the tracks past St Kilda Station.

    This is an unnecessary intervention based on fudged research that will result in St Kilda as a tourist destination fall directly off the map within 10 years.

    ...and how the hell does public transport get easier for the average person when they are actually taking away almost double the tram stops to what they are putting in and and spacing them much further apart? Is it just me?

    Here is more info from the PTA website...

    Find out more: local information sessions

    Information sessions are also being held in local areas to give communities the opportunity to learn more about concept designs, provide feedback, ask questions and meet the project team.

    Saturday 15 June, 10.00am - 2.00pm


    St Kilda Sports Club,


    66 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda




    Wednesday 26 June, 10.00am – 2.00pm


    Acland Court


    158 Acland Street, St Kilda




    Saturday 6 July, 10.00am – 2.00pm


    Veg Out Market,


    Peanut Farm Oval,


    Chaucer Street, St Kilda
    Please make sure you also take a look at early designs for the remainder of the route:

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