The next rail crossing to be removed by the Victorian Government’s Level Crossing Removal Authority is at Grange Road, Alphington. It is asking locals whether they would prefer a sky bridge over or a concrete trench under.
The good residents of Alphington are being presented with very bad options.
The best solution is a cut and COVER tunnel. The reserve would become a linear park with lots of trees to cool the heat island effect that kills Melbourne residents, rail noise would vanish and the price of neighboring properties would soar on the improved liveability.
But a cut and cover tunnel would cost many millions more – an unfair burden on Consolidated Revenue and the rest of us taxpayers.
Never mind that the land price uplift would likely be many times the construction cost, or Marvellous Melbourne would step closer to the urban paradise it proudly claims to be.
It is the tax system – standing between us and genuine, permanent improvement.
Because owner-occupied property is exempt from land tax and all the benefits of undergrounding the rail would fall to a few private hands, government cannot consider this option – even though it is the best one.
Imagine instead, either a land value capture levy on adjoining properties to recycle part of the landholder benefit to pay for the works, or a universal land tax that would rise as the market recognised the improved amenity of advantaged land. The beauty of a land tax is that if the civic improvements don’t lift land prices – no charge!
No. Alphington will get a concrete trench or a sky rail. We are all the poorer for it.