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Grey offers "best outcome" - VicRoads

A decision has not been made regarding the route for the new Yarrawonga-Mulwala bridge, which is now fourth on the priority list for new bridges to be determined by VicRoads and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

ROBERT MUIR April 23, 2014 2:06pm

"In summing up, VicRoads is yet to make a formal reply," said North East Regional Director of VicRoads Bryan Sherritt at Corowa Shire Council's monthly meeting on April 15.

"From a local point of view, we believe the Grey option (alongside the existing bridge) presents the best outcome.

"VicRoads will continue to seek input from the community. The decision ... it could go to August, for the best and most effective route to be decided."

Mr Sherritt, who is based at Benalla and has 23 years experience with Vic Roads, commented about the bridge priority rating and the existing traffic bridge.

"In order of priority by VicRoads and RMS, it's Tooleybuc, Echuca, Swan Hill and Yarrawonga.

"Corowa and Moira Shires, RMS and VicRoads - it's my understanding we're all open to offers to maintain the existing bridge but I think it's a challenge for the community to do that (maintain the bridge due to projected costs).

"At the current time, nothing has been proposed or put to us for retention of the existing bridge."

Mr Sherritt said VicRoads will release more information about the choices of routes for the new bridge, and said the final choice is clearly between the Grey and Green (alongside the railway line near the weir bridge) routes.

"We want people to make an informed decision. It may take until August. It's still a planning project. When we have made the decision, we will seek funding."

At last week's meeting, Corowa Shire Council's General Manager, Chris Gillard, said: "On a professional level, council has reviewed this decision over and over, over a two-year period.

"The latest review was at a meeting on Tuesday 8 April 2014. The mayor, deputy mayor and council officers met with representatives of VicRoads, and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and again reviewed the data and update on recent consultations that have been held by VicRoads and RMS.

"VicRoads and RMS have been particularly helpful on this issue. Based on their information, I cannot recommend council change its mind."


Hard to believe ... you're not supporting us - Purtle

Addressing council's latest meeting, Mulwala Progress Association President Robert

Purtle said: "I find it hard to believe only 26 trucks a day go across those two bridges. There is a safety issue. We're very concerned where the grey route meets Yarrawonga and the effects on Yarrawonga coming into the entrance of Belmore Street."

Mr Purtle expressed apprehension about numbers of vehicles turning into already busy McNally and Piper Streets from Belmore Street and traffic along Irvine Parade from the Grey route past the school "where there's talk of a TAFE being located on the primary school site should the school be relocated".

"The majority of storeholders want to see the Green route and the heavy traffic taken out of the main street," he said.

Mr Sherritt produced various modelling figures depicting substantially increased traffic moments along several streets, including Piper, Orr and McNally streets, should the green route eventuate.

Mr Purtle maintained that should the grey route be chosen, it would in time lead to chaos with increased traffic industry trucks travelling along Belmore Street which would result in a grid-lock situation.

With 20 Mulwala ratepayers in attendance, Mr Purtle, who has petitions containing large numbers of signatures supporting the Green route, concluded to council: "We live in Mulwala. The majority of councillors, the majority of council, live in Corowa.

"You are elected to support us. You're not supporting us."


Comments by councillors/mayor

Corowa Shire Mayor Fred Longmire asked if any councillor wanted to comment.

Cr Gail Law, in her second term on council, said she has looked at the subject several times. "My thoughts have not changed.

"The Grey route would be least disruptive to the people of Mulwala and seems to be the best through route."

Cr Joan Palmer said the role of councillor is to make decisions based on information "like here from the experts". Her opinion has not changed.

Deputy mayor Daryl Davey, the sole Mulwala-based councillor in the group of nine councillors, said he still supports the Grey route "based on the facts" and that "a lot of stuff is going on in our community disputing figures".

"There are professional people running the process. Unless someone can come forward with other information, facts and figures, I won't be changing.
"It's what I was elected to do, to make decisions, with all the information available. I'm really happy with the decision I've actually made."

Cr Paul Miegel asked Mr Sherritt what period of time were the comprehensive traffic studies undertaken.

"I'm not sure of actual times but certainly there were two periods - one off-peak and one during Easter," Mr Sherritt responded.

Cr Longmire , who presided over a potentially fiery meeting,  accused people assessing Corowa council's decision as incorrect have not once shown council any evidence substantiated by the state authorities but preferred press release statement.

"Corowa Shire Council has based its continued position on this background information by VicRoads and RMS costing $1.8 million including that collected by VicRoads via community consultation, the crossing options, major freight transport network, vehicle classifications/traffic movement modelling and internal traffic distribution into Yarrawonga from Mulwala and vice versa which included least disruption to Mulwala residents and base case studies of the two options in peak traffic in 2020 and the transport model summary," the mayor said.

"A suggestion of a bypass for Mulwala in the future is just as achievable with the Grey route as the Green route according to Roads and Maritime Services."

Cr Longmire defended council's role, saying it acted in a responsible and diligent manner. "May I also remind everyone in this room here today that Corowa Shire Council is not the decision maker. This bridge needs to be built."

He asked councillors if anyone had changed his or her mind about the selection of the grey route.

Councillors unanimously remained steadfast in their resolve that the Grey route is the right option for the new bridge, backing Corowa council's earlier resolutions.

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