Clock is ticking for alternative truck route: residents
Residents were extremely vocal at the latest community meeting on heavy vehicles in Rutherglen, with some upset over the lack of ‘definitive information’.
More than 100 residents, armed with many questions, filled the Rutherglen Golf Club for the May 25 meeting.
Indigo Council representatives and VicRoads planning manager Sarah Morris led the meeting.
With many people taking the opportunity to have their say and ask questions, it was obvious residents were all after the same thing – a quick decision on a route to divert trucks out of the narrow main street before there is a fatality.
That reality is at least 12 months away and the total cost of the project will not be known until a route is chosen.
Ms Morris said all the planning in the past had been about a bypass (a new road constructed to pass around a town) and not an alternative truck route (using and updating existing road networks).
“We need to look at it again and that is why money will be spent on an origin to destination study, looking at the exact route of the truck detour,” she said.
Rutherglen already had $2 million committed by the Victorian government, which has now been
topped up with the recent $2 million from the federal budget.
Ms Morris said about $600,000 would go towards community consultation with the origin destination study, which would leave $3.4 million for actual works on the ground.
“Four million is not a lot for this project so we want to make sure we get the most bang for our buck,” she said.
Ms Morris said that meant conducting a new study and further community consultation as there would be new issues to contend with since the last study was undertaken.
Mary Dunn, who was on the first community bypass committee, did not agree and would like to see past studies taken into consideration.
“Some of the footwork has already been done and it should not be dismissed,” she told those at the meeting.
Ms Dunn believed a lot of people left the meeting disappointed because they thought they were going to get more ‘definitive information’.
Ted Shanks, who was on the same committee, thought the meeting was positive.
“They didn’t really want to talk about routes, but they wanted to say that they have some money and this is what we are going to do with it,” he said.
“They talked about Up River and Gooramadda Road and it’s going to upset some people, but running it through the town is going to upset a lot of people too.”
Even though an origin to destination study and consultation to choose a possible route has not started, some people at the meeting were already talking options, with some suggesting Indigo Council had already chose a route involving Up River and Gooramadda Roads.
However, Indigo Council Infrastructure Services Director Ian Ellet disputed the $300,000 upgrade of Gooramadda Road bridge was evidence of this.
Mr Ellet said it was separate funding to the $4 million for planning and works for the deviation project.
Indigo Council Chief Executive Officer Gerry Smith said all parties involved were looking at a solution to the town’s problem that would not be 10 to 15 years away but two to three years away.
However, Rutherglen’s Kerrin O’Rourke, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, believes action needs to be taken sooner and made an emotional plea at the meeting.
Ms O’Rourke explained her difficulties in crossing the Murray Valley Highway in the middle of town.
“I can’t look over cars as I have got to move out onto the road and check, and move back with B-Doubles coming and they can’t brake very fast,” she told those in the meeting.
Ms O’Rourke warned that somebody was going to be hit and that it was only a matter of when.
Rutherglen residents Ken Robson, Gillian Robson, Ted Shanks and Mary Dunn with a map showing bypass possibilities put together by the first community bypass committee.