New Footscray station bridge now being partially demolished

This is Footscray railway station’s William Cooper bridge, pictured just after it opened in 2010. It’s almost brand new.

Footscray railway station footbridge in 2011

Preparatory work on replacing the old bridge had began in April 2009, with the first bridge spans put into place in around August 2009. It was opened in April 2010, at a cost of $15 million.

Meanwhile, the Regional Rail Link (RRL) project was first publicly mooted in 2006, and recommended as part of the Victorian Transport Plan in 2008. It gained the bulk of its funding (and thus the green light to proceed) from the Federal government in May 2009, with a preliminary route design being announced in June 2009.

But despite the RRL project having been given the go-ahead before the bridge started major construction, apparently nobody on the bridge project team thought to check if the it was long enough to handle the extra tracks and platforms likely to be built as part of RRL…

The bridge is not long enough.

Footscray railway station footbridge being partially demolished

Footscray railway station footbridge being partially demolished

Footscray railway station footbridge being partially demolished

The northern part of the bridge is being demolished, less than two years after it opened, so it can be extended a few extra metres over the new tracks. Harking back to a couple of years ago when the new bridge was built parallel to the remains of the old one, a temporary bridge has been constructed.

Your tax payer dollars at work.

The silver-lining is the upgrade will apparently make some improvements, including escalators and better weather-proofing… it’s unclear why the bridge design didn’t include these in the first place.

Of course in an ideal world, the bridge wouldn’t have been built in that form at all — as part of the wider Footscray $62 million redevelopment programme they should have looked at a Perth-style train/bus interchange which would fix the problem of most of Footscray’s buses terminating several hundred metres away from the station, at a myriad of different bus stops.

Update Monday: It’s been pointed out to me that once construction starts it’s hard to stop and change the design, and that the RRL design for Footscray station may not have been known before about October 2009 (which is certainly when I first heard it would be extra platforms on the northern side). Fair enough.

But I still think the point here is that as soon as RRL got funded/underway (in May), someone should have flagged the issue with the bridge project team immediately, and construction halted until it was known where the extra platforms would go, and whether the bridge needed to be modified.

Regional Rail Link update: Olympic Doughnuts to stay at Footscray station

A couple of years ago when they were announcing some of the detail around the Regional Rail Link project upgrades to Footscray station, I jokingly remarked on Twitter that I hoped the doughnut van would survive. I was then assured by someone in the then-minister’s office that it would.

The government may have changed, but the commitment to let the doughnut van stay hasn’t:
Olympic Doughnuts: RRL notice

However, along with many businesses along Irving Street, the cafe formerly known as Tall Poppies (on Nicholson Street) has not survived. This was a known gunzel hangout, due to its view over the railway lines coming out of Footscray, including the Bunbury Street tunnel. I assume it’s been sacrificed due to the widening of the underpass to fit the extra tracks in.
Footscray, looking towards Nicholson Street

Sights from the Footscray station pedestrian bridge

The Footscray station pedestrian bridge opened earlier this year. As noted in this Age article, part of it will have to be demolished to cater for the Regional Fast Rail project (even though the RFR project was funded before the bridge was built… hello, forward planning).

Anyway, there are some great views from the top of the bridge. Here are some of them.

View to the Westgate bridge…
Footscray station bridge: View of the Westgate

View to the docks
Footscray station bridge: View of the docks

View to the city
Footscray station bridge: View of the City

View to the Footscray market (be thankful the smell can’t be reproduced online)
Footscray station bridge: View of the market

View to the doughnut van and the shops.
Footscray station bridge: View of the doughnut van

The crane is a sign of things to come — Footscray is one of six suburban Central Activities Districts, and is likely to be heavily developed in coming years. The first highrise buildings are going up already.

And the empty land in the foreground will make way for the new platforms and station plaza — though I’ve been assured the doughnut vendor will be looked after.

I’m terribly sorry: the one I took of the view to Franco Cozzo didn’t come out. Will go back and do it again soon.