Preparations have begun for next year’s removal of the dangerous and congested Buckley Street level crossing, with drilling to sample ground conditions.

Level Crossing Removal Authority engineers set up a geotechnical rig near the crossing to further explore ground conditions before major construction of the new road underpass begins in 2018.

The drill rig allowed engineers to bore holes up to 25 metres deep, from which they collected a variety of rock and soil samples from for analysis.

Work took place either side of Essendon Station tracks, between Carlyle and Sherbourne streets. Crews will relocate underground utility services, such as gas lines and sewers, early next year.

The boom gates are down about 78 minutes during the morning peak, causing congestion, frustration and potential danger for the 11,000 vehicles that use it each day. The boom gates will be gone in 2018.

Engineers are putting the finishing touches to the road underpass design, to present to the community in early 2018, when the contract will be awarded for the project.

Buckley Street is a main road in Melbourne’s inner north-west, connecting Keilor and Avondale Heights in the west with Mount Alexander Road in the east.

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