The new Buckley Street road underpass in Essendon has entered its final phase of construction as road crews have broken through underneath the rail line.
Work is on track for the level crossing to be removed by late September, enabling traffic to flow freely through the new underpass, months ahead of schedule.
Almost 300 people will work around the clock during the final construction blitz to remove the level crossing.
To build the new 270m road underpass, more than 20,000 tonnes of soil has been removed at an average rate of 1,300 tonnes per day using four excavators, two bulldozers, a grader and a loader.
Work to upgrade the central pedestrian underpass continues on the western side of Buckley Street. The pedestrian entrance on Rose Street is currently closed to enable work on the new Disability Discrimination Act compliant ramps and stairs.
The new service roads now have kerbs, drainage, road barriers and asphalt while work is still to be completed on the footpaths, final road surface and landscaping.
After 16 days of replacement buses, rail services are scheduled to resume from the first service on Monday, 10 September on the Craigieburn, Seymour and Shepparton lines.
Buckley Street will remain closed until the end of September between Mount Alexander Road and Daisey Street and some local roads will continue to be closed intermittently with detours and traffic advisories helping people to get from place to place.
When Buckley Street reopens at the end of September, the level crossing will be gone for good making Essendon safer and better connected.
The level crossing is among the worst in Melbourne with the boom gates down for around 78 minutes during the morning peak, leading to major delays on Buckley Street and surrounding roads, causing frustration to the 11,000 people who drive through it each day.
Its removal will reduce travel times and make the area safer for school children and other pedestrians to move around the station precinct. Work will continue after the road reopens until the end of the year to complete landscaping and improvements to the station precinct.
The Buckley Street level crossing will be the 29th level crossing removed by the Andrews Labor Government. Work is well ahead of schedule to remove 50 level crossings by 2022.