SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Up Against the Wall: the Destructive Potential of the East-West Link

New Trains mural at the Fitzroy Pool

Starting the day as I usually do on a Saturday with Andrew's wonderful yoga class at the Fitzroy pool complex, I stopped to admire the new trains mural adorning the wall. This was particularly apt because I was about to spend the rest of the day examining walls and dreaming of trains.
Keith Fitzgerald, long term Collingwood resident and a stalwart of the Trains Not Tollroads movement, had asked me to take photos of damage to local houses dating back to the building of the Eastern freeway in the '70s. Keith hopes that producing a flyer, with images of what could happen to homes should the Tunnel go ahead, might encourage more home owners and occupiers to join our protests. We started our investigations in Hotham Street, Collingwood.

Open to the skies

Huge road building projects such as the Eastern Freeway have an inevitable impact on the water table, destabilising the earth so that cracks and eventually large fissures appear in peoples' homes.

Bill, long-term Hotham Street resident

After the building of the Eastern Freeway, Vic Roads paid compensation for damages to some residents who submitted a claim within the first eighteen months. But for many people the damage took longer to appear and up to 90% of affected residents received no compensation. Consequently they have had to go it alone paying for repairs. Repairs that in many cases make only a temporary difference.

The never-ending story of the bathroom floor at no 141 Hotham Street

Bianca Merkel of no 141 says that no amount of re-concreting of her bathroom floor works, as the fissure inevitably returns. Bianca loves her home but dreams of a trouble-free house like the one presented to her by a friend yesterday -

One Collingwood home with no cracks

Many of the houses we visited were occupied by students and other young people on limited incomes, who are often particularly undemanding of owners. In those houses damage dating back to the Eastern Freeway construction is painfully obvious:

These are just a few examples of the many pictures I took of the cracks in peoples' houses. Talking to residents, what became even more obvious were the cracks that the construction of the Eastern Freeway had caused in peoples's entire lives and communities. It's no wonder, as Keith put it, that: 'We are not going to cop the chaos of the seventies again. The citizens of Collingwood and Lower Clifton Hill (who are once again in the firing line) will fight the Tunnel all the way.' And the rest of us will be right behind them.


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