Swan Street Bridge takes a dive

The Swan Street Bridge upgrade project has become a debacle for bike commuters using the Main Yarra Trail into the city, with the awkward detours destined to be in place for much longer than planned.

Contractors widening the bridge made several unwelcome discoveries during early stages of the project, especially when they found that the structure in place did not match the original 1950 engineering drawings they were working from.

And a gas main was discovered that will have to be relocated, a lengthy project in itself.

All this means that the project has been delayed and will likely take months the longer than hoped.

This has major implications for bike commuters.

The original detours were indirect and unsympathetic, although the contractors, Seymour Whyte, did their best within the constraints they were under.

Riders would have been prepared to put up with the trouble for a limited period, but asking for the situation to spin-out for many more months is too much.

This is the second time riders have copped a black eye from an engineering drawing related stuff-up.

Riders on the Main Yarra Trail would recall that when the Monash Freeway was widened, the outer lane above the trail through Burnley had to be strengthened, requiring a trail closure.

But because of a problem with the old engineering drawings for that project, the works took many months longer than planned, and the trail was closed for an extended period.

At that time we asked the government compensate riders for the problems caused, and requested the provision of improved infrastructure on the route.

They obliged by funding the new bridge over the Gardiners Creek and under the Monash just near Kooyong Tennis Club.

Now they owe us another quid pro quo.

Options include separated bike infrastructure along Swan Street to Richmond, improvements to the trail width under the Swan Street Bridge, and a steps-free link from the trail to Church Street.

In the meantime VicRoads, the City of Melbourne and the contractors should pull out all stops to streamline the current clunky detour arrangements.