The preparation started the week before and in the early hours of Friday, we were trapped on the western side of St Kilda Road by fencing.
Seven o'clock the concrete breakers started. They worked in pairs spaced less than one hundred metres apart.
Long lengths of track had already been welded into even longer lengths and in the early hours of Friday morning they had been partly assembled ready to slide into position.
Noisy? You betcha, horrendously so, but by 4pm they had finished concrete breaking near the highrise.
The broken up concrete went into trucks. I wasn't home, but R said the line up stretched even longer at one point.
Once the concrete was removed, the remaining base was smoothed and compressed.
Darkness did not stop the work. Floodlights were set up where necessary.
Saturday morning we awoke to find the tracks had been dragged into position.
Then some base material arrived and was dumped by trucks.
More trucks lined up to dump more base. A welder is grinding a weld smooth with a spectacular display of sparks.
On Saturday night the base is spread and rolled.
The kept working all Saturday night.
Sunday morning we awoke to find the base was nice and smooth and where cars cross the track, rough concrete had been poured.
Over the concrete, a layer of asphalt was spread, by the machine with a blade to spread. Where concrete wasn't placed, there were two layers of asphalt spread, but by a trailer behind a truck that spread and smoothed and rolled the asphalt.
The concrete has been asphalted over and there is another layer of asphalt to still lay. A road sweeper has been cleaning away dirt and debris non stop
By Tuesday morning the second layer of asphalt has gone down, road marking done, road loops cut, cats eyes placed and the intersection is open for cross traffic and pedestrians.
Supporting overhead cross wires were strung before the works started. Now new wires are being attached to the cross wires.
I did not take a photo when it was absolutely finished. The road opened and the trams started running on Thursday. While our part seemed to be finished quite early, perhaps to get the road crossing open, work continued elsewhere until the dead line.
I awoke Thursday morning listening for the rumble of trams passing but there was nothing. How do I know the world is right before I get up if I can't hear the trams running? Even when on the balcony, they glide past silently. They don't crash around the curve anymore nor bang their way over broken track joins.
Passengers may or may not notice the smoother and quieter ride but it is probably a case of noticing things when they are wrong, not when they are right. Generally they would have no idea of the huge logistical exercise that happened over the six days or the preparation in the week before. We witnessed something that we may never see again, assuming they did a good job, unlike when it was last relayed in about 1995 by the Kennett government seemingly 'on the cheap'.
The works must have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Buses replaced the trams for the duration and we used them a couple of times and even that seemed to work well. Absolutely ten out of ten to all involved.
Official Yarra Trams photos can be found here.