Walkers fear for safety, but no plans for upgrade

Heather Merton under the Russell Street railway bridge. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Concerned pedestrians are calling for a safer alternative than walking under the railway bridge on Russell Street at Emu Plains, but when it comes to making change, it looks like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Emu Heights resident Heather Merton has been walking through the underpass, that only has a narrow and rocky kerb, for years but said it has become increasingly dangerous.

“I used to walk there with my kids and you would have to stand there for ages until there was no traffic as there is no path, but now I will never walk that way with my grandkids,” Ms Merton said.

“It is the most direct route to get to places but with how built up Russell Street is there are so many trucks and it is now too scary to have to step onto the road to go through.”

Fellow walker Jenny Barnes believes that a connection could be constructed close by.

“If the bridge cannot be widened to accommodate a path, a walkway and path that follows the creek west of the existing bridge and goes under the creek bridge would suffice,” Ms Barnes said.

“The causeway is about 100 metres away and cemented, so could be an option, but it is blocked on the northern end.”

A Penrith Council spokesperson said the railway underpass is not intended as a pedestrian thoroughfare.

“An alternative safe passage is provided between Banjo Crescent and Russell Street via Bunyarra Drive Reserve,” the spokesperson said.

A Sydney Trains spokesperson said construction of a pathway beneath the bridge is not currently feasible, as it is in good condition, and the estimated rebuild cost is prohibitive.

“Currently the best alternative for local pedestrians to cross the railway line is a safe, accessible underbridge approximately 600 metres to the west of Russell Street, between Koloona Drive and Bromley Road,” the spokesperson said.

“The suggested use of the Lapstone Creek underbridge is not appropriate for safe pedestrian access because it is designed to carry water in the event of heavy rain and increased creek water levels.”

Both women said the suggested detours do not have proper paths so are not suitable for prams, wheelchairs or anyone who is unsteady of their feet.

They also said the routes add extra kilometres for those such as elderly residents who walk to access local shops and services.

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