Welcome to my November Yan Yean Update, as you will read there is a lot going on. We are getting on with the job of improving our public transport and roads, building new school facilities and early childhood centres and increasing police resources to make our communities safer.
The Mernda Rail Extension is powering along at a great pace. Some of Australia’s largest machinery is on site, there are some innovative engineering techniques and of course a great workforce doing the hard yakka. I have had the opportunity to have a site tour and the scale of the project needs to be seen to be believed. When completed Mernda Rail extension will provide for 8 kms of new track (that’s a 40% increase in the train line length), have 3 new stations and up to 2,000 car parking spaces. All this will be of course be built with no level crossings. For more info go to: http://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/rail-projects/merndarail
Hurstbridge Line Upgrade
The Andrews Government is powering ahead improving train (and bus) services along the Hurstbridge Line. There have been immediate improvements to timetabling and with the introduction of the 343 Greensborough-Hurstbridge Bus Link. We are now getting to the business end of works along the train line itself and with significant works (and some disruptions) as we finalise the construction work over the summer and into the New Year. Works on the line include – duplication of the single-track section of rail line between Heidelberg and Rosanna, improved signalling, removal of the Grange Road and Lower Plenty Road level crossing. There will also be a new train station at Rosanna. All this work will mean the redesigning the timetables for the Hurstbridge and South Morang lines to achieve additional services and improved reliability on both lines. More info: http://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/rail-projects/hurstbridge-rail-line-upgrade
Yan Yean Road Works to start soon
Contracts for the construction of Yan Yean Rd have been signed off with BMD Constructions Pty Ltd awarded to build and construct the duplication of Yan Yean road up to Kurrak road. Work starts very soon, before the end of 2017. The $131 million project has been talked about for years and I am delighted that the Andrews Government is building it. In this year’s State Budget $96 million was allocated for Stage 2 to duplicate the road north beyond Kurrak road to Doreen. VicRoads is currently liaising with property owners and working on design for Stage 2. For more info on Yan Yean road and to get updates go to: www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/planning-and-projects/melbourne-road-projects/yan-yean-road-plenty
Plenty Road Upgrade
Over 52,000 vehicles use Plenty Road between McKimmies Road and Bush Boulevard as well as an average of 35,000 vehicles continuing their journey between Bush Boulevard and Bridge Inn Road daily. The Plenty Road project will be undertaken in two phases along a 10-kilometre stretch from McKimmies Road to Bush Boulevard (Stage One) and from Bush Boulevard to Bridge Inn Road (Stage Two). During Stage One, a new lane will be added in each direction and five major intersections will be upgraded. Traffic barriers will be installed to prevent crashes, and safer lanes for cyclists will be introduced. Stage Two will also add a new lane in each direction and intersections will be upgraded to help connect people with Mernda Rail and other activity centres in the area.
M80 Ring Road widening to Greensborough Bypass
$700 million is provided to complete the M80 Ring Road. Work will include upgrades between the Princes Freeway and Western Highway, Sydney Road and Edgars Road, and Plenty Road and Greensborough Highway. Work on the 2.4 kilometre Plenty Road to Greensborough Highway section will include an extra lane in each direction and upgrades to interchanges at Greensborough Highway and Plenty Road. Construction is currently taking place on the Sunshine Rd to Calder Freeway section and work will start on the Greensborough and northern sections in 2019. More information: https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/planning-and-projects/melbourne-road-projects/m80-ring-road-upgrade
North East Link
There should be a decision soon on the route of the North East Link. So far, $100 million has been allocated to start early works and design. The North East Link will connect the Metropolitan Ring Road at Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway or EastLink. North East Link will take trucks off local streets and reduce congestion in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. It will complete the missing link in our road network. More information: www.northeastlink.vic.gov.au
Hume Freeway/O’Herns Road Interchange tendered
Drivers in Melbourne’s north are a step closer to a safer and less congested trip home, with work set to begin on stage one of the O’Herns Road Upgrade. The first stage (O’Herns Road and High Street intersection upgrade) of the $81 million project has been awarded to Maca Civil Pty Ltd. The upgrade will reduce congestion on key arterial roads like Cooper Street, Epping Road, High Street and Miller Street. The second stage of the project includes building a new interchange at O’Herns Road to provide easier access to the Hume Freeway. The interchange will feature new on and off ramps, providing a direct route to the Melbourne CBD, and improved connections to suburbs including Epping, Wollert and Craigieburn. O’Herns Road will also be duplicated to four lanes between the Hume Freeway and Redding Rise to provide drivers with faster access to the new interchange.
Ensuring our communities are safe
Law and order is an important issue for many locals and I am working hard to ensure Melbourne’s north is getting the most out of the Andrews Government’s record law and order investment – The $2 billion Community Safety Statement. The Community Safety Statement was released almost a year ago to turn around Victoria’s crime rate, which has been on the rise since 2011. For all the politicking by the Liberals, the fact is that Victoria’s crime rate increased every quarter of every year while they were in Government. The Liberals as usual failed to invest in our police force and did not purchase the equipment or build the necessary infrastructure our Victoria Police need to do their job. That has now changed and I am glad that in the last quarter of 2017 Victoria’s crime offence rate dropped by 2% over the last 12 months. We are seeing the beginning of what I think will be turn around in crime in Victoria as more police come on line and the $2 billion Community Safety Statement initiatives begin to take effect.
Locally we are increasing police resources with 45 extra frontline police for the Whittlesea area. Most of these officers will be based in the new 24 hour Mernda Police station that opens this month. I am also working to improve the police station in Whittlesea which is in need of an upgrade or rebuild. For more information about Community Safety check out the links:
Whittlesea Secondary College Upgrade
Last month I had the honour of joining students and staff at Whittlesea Secondary College for the opening of new buildings at the school. Developed as part of a major $4.7 million upgrade, the new Junior School building features classrooms that can be converted into a large open space to comfortably seat up to 240 people. These flexible classrooms and break out spaces are ideal for special events such as student performances and whole of staff training sessions and are designed to support the latest teaching approaches such as team teaching. The upgrade also includes a converting the school’s old library into a fully refurbished Middle School building and the development of a new cafeteria-style school canteen.
Whittlesea Tech School – Construction Begins
In more exciting news for education in Melbourne’s north, construction has started on the Whittlesea Tech School project. I was delighted to assist in the ‘turning of the sod’ event at Melbourne Polytechnic Epping Campus to celebrate the start of works. Students in the north will soon have a high-tech learning centre on their doorstep. The Whittlesea Tech School, which will be hosted by Melbourne Polytechnic at its Epping campus, will open in mid-2018. It will be a shared learning hub available free of charge for students from 13 government and non-government schools across Melbourne’s north. With a focus on advanced manufacturing, scientific and technical services, healthcare and social assistance, entrepreneurial skills and food and fibre, the new Tech School will emphasis skills needed for careers in the 21st century. Tech Schools use high-tech equipment, such as 3D printers, audio visual platforms, robotics and virtual reality, to deliver advanced education. For more information about Tech Schools visit: http://techschools.education.vic.gov.au/
Orchard Road Early Learning Centre
Another wonderful event in October was opening the new Orchard Road Community and Early Learning Centre in Doreen. The $6.7 million centre which will provide two 33 place kindergarten rooms, a long day care centre, a maternal and child health centre and large outdoor play areas. The centre will also provide outreach health and wellbeing programs, youth and disability programs and opportunities to provide out of school hours care. The new Orchard Road Community and Early Learning Centre will be located next door to the new Yarrambat Park Primary School, which will be constructed in 2018 and will be taking enrolments for 2019.
Beveridge Community Centre – Construction Begins
Construction started last month on the $8 million Beveridge Community Centre. The new centre will provide support to more than 21,000 community members throughout the area. The centre will provide a youth space including an office, two multipurpose rooms, a commercial kitchen, two consulting rooms and associated reception area, an internal street that will be used as a gathering space, Two kindergarten rooms and two maternal and child health rooms. Jac Symes and I campaigned with the community to get this project off the ground for the growing Beveridge community. It will be great for local families and will complement the future Beveridge Primary School which Labor have already secured the land for. Works on the centre are expected to be completed in August 2018.
Making it easier to buy and rent your home
Australians are obsessed with property that’s for sure. However, it is fair to say it is tough for those families that rent or for those trying to enter the housing market to buy a first home. The Andrews Government has been rolling out a number important policies in recent months to try and make buying a home easier and living in a rental home much fairer. In this year’s Budget the Victorian Government abolished stamp duty for first homebuyers for homes up to $600,000 and reduced Stamp Duty on a sliding scale for first homes purchased up to $750,000. We are also improving rights for renters, making it easier for tenants to have pets and make small changes to their home such as putting in picture hooks. Below are a number of recent initiatives we have released. If you or someone you know is looking to buy a first home or rents a home, I recommend you send them the links also.