MONEY is tight in Victoria for TAFEs, teachers and hospitals, but the state government has found millions of dollars to upgrade a level crossing in the safe Liberal seat of Brighton.
The New Street crossing - ranked a lowly 223rd on a government priority list of level crossings in need of fixing - is to be upgraded this year.
The crossing is in the seat of deputy Liberal leader Louise Asher.
News of the upgrade comes in the same week Dianne Dejanovic visited the notorious Main Street level crossing in St Albans.
Ms Dejanovic's 31-year-old son Christian was killed at the level crossing a year ago - the 16th person to die at the crossing - and she has called on the government to fix it.
The crossing is on the priority list and the government has said work will begin this term but it has not allocated any money.
Public Transport Victoria said the Brighton crossing had been closed since 2007 because of safety concerns about its manually operated gates.
''There had not been any fatalities recorded at the New Street Level crossing, however in the three years prior to closing there were 17 near misses, some potentially fatal, including a train colliding with the gates,'' it said.
Opposition public transport spokeswoman Fiona Richardson deplored the decision to lift the priority of the Brighton crossing.
''Victorians will no doubt feel very angry about a level crossing in Brighton jumping the queue ahead of hundreds of other more dangerous crossings, particularly at a time when the Liberals are also cutting funding to schools and hospitals,'' she said. The decision was a ''disgraceful display of partisan politics''.
A spokeswoman for the government said ''separating a road from a railway line by going over or under costs around $150 million to $200 million, and St Albans is on the Coalition's list'' of 12 priority crossings.
''New Street level crossing is a completely different type of project - to install boom gates that were closed in 2007 - and is likely to be less than $5 million,'' the spokeswoman said.
She said the former Labor government had 11 years to fix the St Albans crossing, but ''as usual, ignored their heartland''.
''They should be ashamed that it takes a Coalition government to fix things for people that they take for granted.''
The government made an election commitment to restore access between New Street and Beach Road in Brighton after the level crossing was closed in September 2007.
Last year the government abandoned a multimillion-dollar plan to build an underpass to connect to Beach Road following a $2 million feasibility study that found it would not have provided value for money.
Instead the New Street level crossing upgrade will include new boom barriers, flashing warning lights and an automated pedestrian crossing.
Tenders for the work closed recently and a contract is expected to be awarded in the next few weeks.