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Rail options for Johnson Street bridge could be available
As costs escalate and more questions arise on the design for the replacement for the Johnson Street Bridge, it could be time to step back and re-evaluate the project.
We now know that there is funding for the E&N railway, so we need to consider bringing the rail line back over the bridge, a possibility that is missing from the new design. Victoria city council claims it has preserved the right-of-way if rail were to be added in the future, but this would need to be in the way of a separate span built alongside the new bridge.
Council appears to be conflicted on how to proceed with this huge infrastructure expenditure.
According to the 1924 engineers report on the construction of the bridge, the vehicle bridge was designed to carry the E&N railway, until the rail portion of the bridge was completed at a later date. This vehicle span was then tested successfully with a train of heavily loaded gravel cars.
With this in mind there is the option of keeping rail on the Johnson Street Bridge by refurbishing the present bridge. This approach would be much cheaper than was originally projected, since that cost would have been to repair two spans.