Fact check: Ferguson Street level crossing removal project

A Hobsons Bay Councillor took aim at Labor Candidate for Williamstown Melissa Horne with a rather creative campaign.

A recent report in the media gave voice to a Hobsons Bay Councillor who decided to announce their run for the seat of Williamstown as an independent candidate in the upcoming Victorian State Election in November.

In the story, the Councillor made a number of claims regarding the removal of the level crossing at Ferguson Street in Williamstown, a project that is part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to remove 50 level crossings across Melbourne by 2022.

The Councillor claimed that the State Government “had been telling the Hobsons Bay City Council it would have plans for the crossing ready by the middle of this year” and “Then last December, it put it on the backburner.”

The claims continued with allegations that the reason the project was ‘put on the backburner’ was because Melissa Horne, a former executive at the Level Crossing Removal Authority, was running as the Labor Candidate for Williamstown.

The Councillor also claimed the State Government wanted “to wait until after the election to come out with plans that are most likely to be unpalatable to the electorate” and further alleged that residents can “expect a skyrail to emerge once the election is out of the way.”

Level crossings aside, the Hobsons Bay Councillor announced an intention to run for the seat of Williamstown as an independent candidate at the upcoming Victorian State Election in November, which was news to Willy and Hobby as much as it was to Council.

Level Crossing Removal Project at Ferguson Street in Williamstown

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Photo: Level Crossing Removal Authority

Following publication of the piece, Willy and Hobby confirmed that the Councillor only informed his fellow Councillor colleagues the morning of publication. It is understood that the announcement really put the cat among the pigeons.

As for the claims on the level crossing removal at Ferguson Street in Williamstown, Level Crossing Removal Authority Project Director Tony Hedley confirmed that the project is in the early planning stages, with initial community consultation expected to start next year.

“LXRA will undertake detailed planning and consultation before considering options to remove the level crossing at Ferguson Street – and we will work with locals and other key stakeholders as this project progresses,” Mr Hedley said.

A spokesperson for the authority also confirmed that there is currently no preferred design to remove the Ferguson Street level crossing, which does not rule out a skyrail, but by all means does not have one set in stone either.

Though most interesting about the Councillor’s story was talk about the West Gate Tunnel Project – a project the Councillor did not appear to have issues with when they supported a motion for the Council to receive $5 million dollars from the State Government for support.

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