Clock is tick­ing for al­ter­na­tive truck route: res­i­dents

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH DEAN

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.

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