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Future of Yarra bridges under microscope

Ageing bridges over the Yarra that have been the bane of bike riders for years may finally be getting some attention.

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne has commissioned a $200,000 study to investigate upgrading the century-old Walmer Street Bridge in Richmond.

The way-narrow structure is in degraded condition, especially the approach ramp on the Boroondara bank of the river.

Redevelopment at Walmer Plaza on the opposite bank is providing a new landing and ramp for the old span, which will highlight the inadequacy of the remainder of the crossing, part of the busy Yarra Trail.

According to Mr Wynne, responsibility for its upkeep is complex, with Boroondara and Yarra responsible for the landing on either side, ownership of the asset itself unclear and surrounding land managed by Parks Victoria.

The Minister said that with the development of the Walmer Street Plaza there is an opportunity to launch a coordinated process with State and Local Government as well as the adjoining land owner to upgrade the bridge and improve pedestrian and bicycle access.

The business case will be informed by expert advice to identify key issues and develop a vision for the upgrade of the bridge.

The business case aims for completion before the end of the year.

“We’re delighted to announce funding for a detailed business case and design process for Walmer St Bridge – a critical piece of community infrastructure.”

“We’re looking forward to getting both councils and community engaged in this important work.”

Meanwhile, just upstream, the equally aged and inadequate Collins Bridge will also be due for replacement in the next decade or so.

The Gipps Street steps at this location are due for removal in a project already funded, but awaiting the necessary environmental investigations and approvals.

And let's not forget the road bridges over the Yarra that connect riders to the eastern suburbs: the facilities for bikes on these bridges are from acceptable.

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