Royal Park “death-trap” crossing gets long-awaited funding for upgrade

By Carol Saffer & Brendan Rees

Parkville Gardens residents are celebrating after the City of Melbourne announced it would spend $1.5 million to upgrade a dangerous intersection at the Royal Park Railway Station.

After years of advocating, residents were relieved to receive the news the council would fix the notorious “S-bend” on Poplar Rd at the Royal Park Railway Station and tram intersection.

The funding was confirmed in the council’s draft 2022-23 budget in May with safety works and upgrades to be undertaken at the intersection, which is described as a “death trap”.

Parkville Gardens Residents’ Association president Tom Knowles welcomed the announcement, saying Popular Rd was frequented by the community’s growing population – including families with young children – going to and from the zoo.

“There is no safe crossing in that location, so they have to take their chances with the traffic,” he said.

“I am regularly struck by the risk they are forced to take. The installation of a controlled pedestrian crossing is long overdue.” 

“I’m conscious this may entail some delays for drivers, but the safety of pedestrians is paramount.”

The news also resulted in jubilation within the ranks of the Royal Park Stakeholders Network, who had called for improvements to the dangerous “S-bend” on Poplar Rd in January this year.

Michael Petit, Protectors of Public Land secretary, said the network had been campaigning to the City of Melbourne to kickstart the safety upgrade as it was “a death trap and something that needs to be fixed.”

“This joint council and state $1.5 million safety plan will greatly reduce the threat of serious injury or loss of life for the many visitors to Royal Park who arrive by train, tram, bicycle, and foot,” he said.

“The dangerous ‘S-bend’ on Poplar Rd will be replaced by traffic signalling, and safe ways to push a pram, ride a bike and walk across in safety.”

 

“I think it safe to say that we are all in a word, chuffed, and we are deeply grateful for the championship of Cr [Rohan] Leppert.”

 

Mr Petit said forming the stakeholders’ network was a step in the right direction to ensure individual groups informed each other of their objectives and plans so they could work collaboratively.

The City of Melbourne’s deputy planning lead Cr Rohan Leppert said he was delighted the project was finally being funded with the council and the state government each to contribute $750,000.

“It is a testament to the persistence of locals and Royal Park advocates that the project has been prioritised,” Cr Leppert said.

“At $1.5 million this project isn’t cheap, but that’s because we need to synchronise pedestrian crossing signals with the rail crossing to avoid road traffic backing up over the rail line.”

He added the Poplar Rd pedestrian crossing would “greatly improve” the link between the zoo and Royal Park Station, and “make this wonderful part of Melbourne safer for all road users and park visitors.”

The Royal Park Stakeholders Network, comprised of more than a dozen community groups, venues and council officers, was initiated in late 2020 to address concerns related to the use and conditions of the park.

Friends of Royal Park secretary Kaye Oddie said Poplar Rd presented dangers for tram drivers due to poor sightlines in both directions.  •

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