Tuesday will mark 500 days since a train with faulty brakes hurtled through the Ballarat Railway Station at 100kms/hr. It smashed the heritage rail gates on its way to a slow stop down the tracks.
That no one was seriously injured, or killed, is remarkable.
Perhaps what is more remarkable is that 500 days later, the level crossing is still blocked off.
Lydiard Street remains a tale of north and south, and like our state borders, impassable, impenetrable. Check mate.
A short-term fix should have taken a few days - two or three maybe - but not 500 days and counting.
The temporary solution the Victorian Government announced in May this year was supposed to be done by September-October.
It's breath-takingly bad - and made worse by the fact that the office of the local Member, Juliana Addison, is literally just down the road from the disputed territory. You can see it from the big, fat, ugly bollards.
On that May day, the Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll, stood alongside Ms Addison and promised $10.5 million to fix the outrageous shemozzle.
He declared that boom gates were the answer to replace the heritage gates.
Of course, they said, the boom gates would respect the heritage nature of the site.
Of course, they said, it is the best solution.
Of course, they said, it would happen soon and everyone will be happy. And even happier if they looked the other way.
But boom gates in this location - temporary and permanent - are abhorred and opposed by locals on heritage grounds alone.
The Government may want to ignore locals' views, but the Heritage Impact Statement may have a bigger say in things.
It said the gates "...should continue to be used and maintained. ...The CMP (Conservation Management Plan) assessment and policy recognises the significance of the gates and urges their retention as operating infrastructure."
The City of Ballarat's own application to Heritage Victoria made it very clear it also wants the old gates back.
It understands the heritage value of the precinct. Afterall, the gates have been there since 1873.
But here we are today with no crossing, no gates and no hope of it changing any time soon.
Imagine if this was Collins Street Melbourne.
The outrage towards a solution that completely disregarded heritage would be shrill and such a prolonged road closure would likely dispatch a government.
The outrage of a major city street blocked for 18 months would be deafening.
Collins Street would have been further stymied by protestors gluing themselves to it.
Put it this way, if the Lydiard Street rail gates were in Melbourne, this problem would have been fixed within days.
But it's not Melbourne. We are 'outside the tram tracks' and therefore out-of-sight is out-of-mind with this Labor Government.
It has shut down a state, why should it care for a level crossing or a street in the country?
It gets worse.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE IN LYDIARD STREET? Have your say at the bottom of the story
But let's focus on Ballarat, and not Melbourne, as is the Premier's penchant.
Ballarat's boom gate solution- at $10.5 million - is a fraction of what the Premier is prepared to pay to remove them elsewhere.
On March 16, I asked Minister Carroll in the Victorian Parliament "...when will the Lydiard Street railway crossing be opened?"
He took until June 10, almost three months, to reply.
He said "work is already underway for a temporary solution to reopen Lydiard Street that will involve half boom barriers..."
So, 500 days, no solution, let alone a temporary one.
The question will turn to how long will the `temporary' solution be in place. The dictionary tells us this should only be a 'short time'.
Predictably, the Premier will grace Ballarat next year to celebrate the opening of his boom debacle. 2022 is an election year.
One can only expect locals' memories of this saga won't be so temporary.
And all this saga for a train that was at fault - and not the gates.
Bev McArthur is the Member for Western Victoria
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