Around 23 Canary Island Date Palms that line Royal Avenue at Glen Huntly will be heading off for a holiday at a specialist nursery, as works continue to remove 2 dangerous and congested level crossings and build a new Glenhuntly Station.
Early works started on site at Glen Huntly in February in preparation for the construction team to dig a 1km trench from Tattenham Street in the north to Wattle Avenue in the south, lowering the Frankston Line under the Neerim Road and Glen Huntly Road level crossings.
While other trees do not respond well to being transplanted, more than 50 palm trees have already been successfully removed and reinstated along the Frankston line at Ormond, McKinnon, Bentleigh, Cheltenham and Carrum by the Level Crossing Removal Project over the past 5 years.
The team is investigating innovative ways to best remove the palm trees at Glen Huntly which are thought to be between 80 and 100 years old. One of the options is to use airbags – the method the team used at Cheltenham Station when palm trees there were temporarily removed in 2020.
Using a high-pressure water sprayer and a vacuum to remove the soil and water, crews create two 45-degree holes under each palm’s root ball. Air bags are inserted into the holes and inflated to gently extract the root ball from the soil, allowing each palm to be craned onto a truck.
'Using this method at Glen Huntly would be a carbon copy of what we successfully delivered on our level crossing removal works at Cheltenham, and all removals will be overseen by a team of professional and independent arborists,' said Level Crossing Removal Project’s Program Environmental Manager Alex Dwyer.
Once on the back of a truck, the root ball will be wrapped up in hessian and plastic to protect it from damage. The palms will be driven to a specialist nursery at Keysborough where they will be temporarily planted and cared for, before being returned to Glen Huntly once major works are finished.
'We understand how important these palm trees are to the community. That’s why we need to remove them prior to digging the trench and completing a range of other works to ensure the palms aren’t damaged,' Alex Dwyer said.
While tree and shrub removals are a necessary part of major infrastructure projects, the team has been constantly reviewing its designs and construction methodology to limit clearing at Glen Huntly.
70% of trees in the area will be retained and the project has committed to planting 2 trees for every one that requires removal at Glen Huntly, which will ultimately increase the suburb’s tree canopy and biodiversity.
Once trains are running through the trench and the new Glenhuntly Station has opened in 2023, crews will begin extensive landscaping works. Our landscape designers are currently working on detailed planting and landscaping plans for the Glen Huntly works area and we look forward to sharing the ideas with the community. Locals will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the designs.
The Glen Huntly project, which includes a new Glenhuntly Station featuring an impressive station forecourt, a new tram stop outside the station and a walking and cycling path connecting Ormond and Caulfield has been fast-tracked for completion in 2024.
The Glen Huntly Road level crossing is used by both trams and vehicles and features one of the last remaining tram squares in Melbourne. It makes it one of the city’s most dangerous level crossings as the manually operated crossing requires more than 200 trains passing through each day to travel at very slow speeds – causing huge delays for trams.
The removal of the 2 level crossings at Glen Huntly is part of the Victorian Government’s $4 billion Big Build investment in the Frankston Line to remove 20 level crossings and build 13 new stations by 2025.
85 level crossings across Melbourne will be gone for good by 2025 — with 59 already consigned to history.