It is believed to be among the largest number of trees cut down in one fell swoop in the leafy boulevard’s history. And there’s more to come.
The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority plans to chop down a total of 95 trees along St Kilda Road, down from 170 following fierce opposition from the community.
However, the Authority will need to obtain more permits to complete the works.
Marilyn Wane, who lives on St Kilda Road, said it was the “final blow.”
“We’re just devastated,” Ms Wane said. “The thing that is most upsetting is that they’ve started with oldest and most valuable assets in the whole area. Those elms trees are part of avenue which has been there for 100 years. They are destroying history.”
Ms Wane also accused the authorities of being “underhanded” by publicly withholding the permits until just hours before the works began on Wednesday afternoon.
“It would be nice if the treated us with respect given it’s our backyard they’re digging up,” she said.
The Authority has promised to plant two trees for every one removed, and says the new trees would be planted in improved soil conditions and with better irrigation.
“We are continuing to investigate reducing this number further however some removal is necessary for a project of this size,” a Metro Railway Authority spokesman said.
Liberal Member for the Southern Metropolitan Region Margaret Fitzherbert accused the government of going for a “cheap and nasty option” despite changing its mind for Swanston Street, which was originally also going to be dug up as part of the project.
“This is going to have a massive impact on the area for years to come,” she said.
Late last year, the Andrews government announced it had signed a $6 billion contract, to build the nine kilometre tunnels and five underground stations with the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium led by Lendlease, and a $1.1 billion contract for high-capacity signalling with CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation.
Draft plans for the new Anzac Station detail a significant transformation of St Kilda Road, and stirred controversy over an new design for bike lanes along the boulevard.
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