A contract has been signed to remove the notorious Gipps Street steps on the Main Yarra Trail at Abbotsford.
Work by Parks Victoria contractors will soon be underway to construct an elaborate $15m ramp from the trail along the river up to Gipps Street at the Collins Bridge.
This will enable riders to have a continuous journey along the beautiful river valley without having to drag their bikes up and down flights of awkward stairs.
Finally, families with children, riders with cargo bikes and trailers, tandems and the like, not to mention walkers with mobility challenges, will be able to navigate this section of trail and connect to nearby attractions including the Abbotsford Convent and Dights Falls.
The announcement today by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambriosio is the near-final step in Bicycle Network’s 17-year campaign to get this problem fixed.
Minister D’Amrosio said: "We’re building a spectacular new ramp here – removing these notoriously unpopular steps."
Bicycle Network CEO Alison McCormack said that the start of the project would trigger a giant sigh of relief across Melbourne.
“Having steps on a bike trail is totally incongruous yet for years bike riders were expected to pretend they just weren’t there.
“We understand that finding a solution that met the expectations of all parties was very difficult at this location, so we greatly appreciate the efforts of Minister D'Ambrosio and the team at Parks Victoria to craft this clever solution.
"You persisted and kept at the task and riders will be forever grateful.
“I’d also to thank the Bicycle Network community that over the years helped us keep the pressure on successive government and council administrations to get the job done."
The Member for Richmond, Richard Wynn, said: "The Andrews Labor Government is getting rid of one of Melbourne’s least loved set of steps. Today we appointed construction contractor MACA to help build a 150-metre ramp in place of the steps to improve connectivity on Melbourne’s famous Main Yarra Trail.
"Following a gentle gradient above the riverbank, the new ramp will allow people with prams or bikes, and people with accessibility requirements to enjoy a continuous journey along one of Melbourne’s most popular trails."
There will be local detours while the works are underway and the section of trail between the steps and Clarke St is temporarily closed. Bicycle Network will provide details closer to the date.
Bicycle Network kicked off the campaign to remove the steps in 2005 with a meeting with the Member of Richmond, Richard Wynn, who was a strong supporter of the campaign.
Plans to remove the steps were first announced 2010, initially with a bridge, and then with a ramp, but various technical, legal, and other impediments hindered progress.
The current solution to the steps problem is one of several iterations of the ramp concept that have been worked through since 2015.
The final design recognises the future provision of a trail along the Abbotsford Brewery side of Yarra by providing means for that trail to link both to Gipps Street and through to the existing trail along the river.
Much of the vegetation currently on the embankment at this part of the Yarra is invasive weed species, which will be removed. No native tree species are planned to be removed and the embankment will be regenerated with native species.