Road to nowhere … community seeks answers on Grattan St future

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Brendan Rees

Parkville and Carlton residents have expressed concern about what will happen to Grattan St as reinstatement works on the main arterial start this year.

Partial closures of Grattan St have been in place since 2018 as works on the new underground Parkville Metro station have continued, which has seen motorists become accustomed to “rat runs” and peak hour delays in the area.

But with road reinstatement and public realm works getting under way mid this year, questions have been raised about whether the new sections of Grattan St would be reopened to traffic as pledged by the City of Melbourne and Department of Transport and Planning (DPT).

 

“We were promised all the way through this development that Grattan St was going to reopen,” Rob Moore, president of the Parkville Association, said, adding the City of Melbourne “have not been forthcoming”.

 

He said initial plans by the council and had “guaranteed the street would reopen” but this was now appeared up in the air.

Residents were now worried that Grattan St, which will become single lanes each way, would only be reopened to buses and bikes, not cars.

In a statement, the City of Melbourne, which owned Grattan St, said it continued to “work closely with the Department of Transport and Planning on the future of Grattan St as the Metro Tunnel project progresses, including bike lanes”.

“Development plans for the Metro tunnel project outline the approved design for the Parkville precinct and a reconfigured Grattan St,” the council said.

According to the Metro Tunnel plans from July 2022, the Cross Yarra Partnership had designed the Parkville precinct to “align with the vision of transforming Grattan St into a ‘Grand Promenade’ and biodiversity corridor among a prominent institution”.

Metro confirmed the reinstatement works on Grattan St were expected to take around two years, which would be staged in areas throughout the Parkville precinct to reduce impacts.

This included footpath and road construction, traffic signal modifications, installation of surface structures and street furniture and landscaping.

A DPT spokesperson said, “We are continuing to work with the City of Melbourne and other key stakeholders on the future of Grattan St as the Metro tunnel project progresses.”

Mr Moore said while residents were thrilled to have a new station, which would help connections to hospitals, biomedical precincts, and the University of Melbourne, it was equally important that Grattan St was reopened to traffic.

He noted the current road closures between Royal Pde and Bouverie St, as well as Flemington Rd and Royal Pde, had put “tremendous pressure” on Gatehouse St while motorists around College Crescent were stuck in peak hours traffic for up to 40 minutes.

“It is a serious issue to remove much of the rat running through south Parkville,” Mr Moore said, adding the opening of the West Gate tunnel, which is billed as the “gateway” to the University of Melbourne, would only further increase traffic to the area.

Executive officer of Carlton Inc. Phillip Mansour said it took him more than half an hour to drive to the Royal Children’s Hospital from Carlton.

 

Grattan St is a very big part of our tapestry; we really need that back because it helps as a thoroughfare, and in turn connecting people to shops and cafes in Carlton.

 

Tony, a trader on Grattan St, said “people are used to diverting around” the road closures.

“It’s always better to have traffic flow. It will be interesting to see what they do, whether they do close that right up,” he said.

The new Parkville station is being built under Grattan St (between Royal Pde and Leicester St) and is expected to open in 2025. It’s expected to relieve pressure on local trams and roads and will link directly to Melbourne Airport in 2029 via the Melbourne Airport Rail.

Carlton resident Tim Swain said trying to get “definitive and qualified statements” from the council was “extremely difficult”. •

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