Update on the new McKay footbridge

As you may recall, the works being undertaken by the Regional Rail Link (RRL) project require the replacement of the heritage listed McKay footbridge, that allows pedestrians access from the North-East corner of the gardens over the railway tracks and Harvester Road to the Clocktower on Devonshire Road.

The replacement footbridge needs to meet many requirements of the modern day including full disability access and the passing of ‘double-decker’ freight trains underneath.  There are also colour restrictions to ensure no confusion or distraction to train drivers and measures must be taken to prevent people jumping off or items being thrown off.

The Friends of McKay Gardens, as well as reps from the Sunshine & District Historical Society and Bicycle Victoria have had several meetings with Brimbank Council and the RRL Footscray – Deer Park Alliance (RRL-FDP) to provide input and discuss potential designs of the replacement footbridge.

Artists impressions of the final design of the replacement footbridge have now been released by RRL-FDP:

As well as suggestions at the meetings, the Friends made this submission to RRL-FDP regarding the replacement footbridge.

Suggestions from the Friends that have been incorporated:

  • the tapered support piers
  • industrial external truss design
  • curvature in the span of the bridge
  • potential use of street art on support piers to deter graffiti
  • use of remaining original fabric from existing bridge to create a sculpture/art piece. 

The Friends also suggested the inclusion of the design from the McKay gates but consider that the approach taken by RRL-FDP has rendered the inclusion completely unrecognisable on the bridge.  On the left below is the McKay gate design.  The picture on the right shows that the design has been inverted 90°, the ‘bow tie’ shape has been made oval and the middle strut does not appear.

The Friends consider that if the interpretation is so abstract that it needs to be explained on information signs then it may as well not have been included.

Suggestions from the Friends not incorporated:

  • industrial rust colouring to the entire bridge
  • colouring of the concrete
  • matching bridge walking surface with existing garden path surface
  • continuation of existing light design within the gardens
  • use of products rather than mesh anti-throw screens
  • inclusion of historic tiles into the surface of the bridge
  • enable pedestrians to learn a story as they cross the bridge
  • represent Sunshine’s journey from 1900 to modern day while crossing the bridge
So we have a replacement footbridge – it’s not a bad bridge for all the requirements that had to be met – but sadly it does not do a lot to represent what once was there and why.
RRL-FDP and Council advised that the story of the bridge will be told on a sign in the Gardens, which will also explain the representation of the gates in the design.
It’s not yet known when work will commence nor how long it will take.

One comment

  1. In short, the RRL and its partners considered every issue EXCEPT the heritage of the bridge. The Department of Transport has been conniving with Heritage Victoria for the destruction of this bridge for 5 years and this is the best they could come up with!

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