Council seeking bridge answers
Federation Council is to engage with VicRoads, and Roads and Maritime Services NSW regarding the substantially reduced priority rating for a new Yarrawonga Mulwala Traffic Bridge.
Council is also to spend an estimated $30,000 to have the Mulwala community surveyed to determine their preferred bridge alignment for the new bridge.
The action being taken by Federation Council was decided at its monthly meeting on September 18. A private firm will undertake the survey as soon as possible.
“Two state governments, two road authorities want the grey route. Only the Moira Shire has dug their heels in. But I fully support a survey or pleblecite which is not binding,” Cr Fred Longmire said.
Cr Gail Law referred to a letter written by Yarrawonga resident Peter Bennett which strongly recommended the grey route, as did she.
Both Crs Longmire and Law appeared set to reject the survey part of the motion but voted for the survey. “Let’s bring it to a conclusion,” Cr Longmire urged fellow councillors.
With the closure of the weir bridge in 2020, Cr Bronwyn Thomas referred to the Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge being the sole bridge from 2020 and the need to have the complete survey - not only Yarrawonga people, but also Mulwala residents.
Deputy Mayor Shaun Whitechurch totally endorsed the survey. Knowing the division within the community over the proposed grey and green routes, he said council could have a difficult decision to make, with the possibility of council going against the survey result and asked Mayor Pat Bourke what would happen if that scenario eventuated.
“It would have to come back to council for further discussion and for council to make a recommendation,” the mayor said. The Yarrawonga Chronicle believes that with the new Federation Council, preference by councillors, at this stage, is for a 5:4 green route.
Cr Andrew Kennedy said: “We want to survey the community to see what they want. The way it’s going we won’t get a bridge.
“Not everyone in Yarrawonga was surveyed. Let’s hope it’s all done properly.”
Cr Norm Wales said: “There are definite plusses for both routes.”
Immediate past mayor of Corowa Shire Council, Cr Paul Miegel, said the grey route was council’s Corowa Shire’s preferred option, reiterating the option has been accepted by all except Moira Shire.
He considered a survey would be a waste of money. “Further procrastination will certainly defer a new bridge,” Cr Miegel said. “We should lobby to build the bridge urgently. VicRoads did all the data, surveys and traffic counts.
“We want a new bridge. We can’t wait for a 10-year gap between bridges. Let’s get commitment to funding.”
Cr Miegel said regardless of any survey result, the decision still lies with the state governments. “All we are, are minor role players. We should accept the umpire’s decision,” he said and voted against the motion of Crs Andrew Kennedy and Shaun Whitechurch for the survey.
In his report tabled at council’s meeting, Federation Council’s General Manager Adrian Butler said that council staff would engage with VicRoads and RMS to ascertain the position on the investment priority report.
“It is clearly not acceptable to have the bridge at least 10 years away, given the closure of the weir bridge in 2020,” he said.
“The position of the routes also needs to be resolved and both the roads authorities need to be questioned as to if they have any intent to revisit the route issue.
“Should council wish to survey the Mulwala community, this should occur shortly in order to address that issue and continue lobbying for the bridge construction and strategic planning for the alternative route and foreshore developments.”
Moira Shire Council’s unanimously preferred route is the Green Route. The previous Corowa Shire Council, prior to amalgamation with Urana Shire Council, was unanimously in favour of the Grey Route which is the route, Yarrawonga Chronicle understands, still being planned for by both state road authorities and governments.
Four councillors on Federation Council were councillors in Corowa Shire – Crs Paul Miegel, a past mayor Fred Longmire, Cr Gail Law and Cr Norm Wales.
All confirmed their selection of the grey route yesterday, except Cr Wales who elaborated to the Yarrawonga Chronicle on the comment he made to council. He said he now prefers the green route to allow for “a bigger bypass, to see more of the lake”. Cr David Longley was absent from last week’s meeting.
As reported in last week’s Yarrawonga Chronicle, under the heading of ‘Nightmare on Belmore Street’, a report recommends the further delay of the bridge and new road limit on the Burley Road channel.
According to a Murray River Crossing Investment Priority Assessment report, the Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge will not be built before other bridges including those at Tooleybuc, Swan Hill, Towong and work on the John Foord Bridge at Corowa/Wahgunyah.
It means any new bridge for Yarrawonga Mulwala could be at least 10 years away. As has been stated for several years, the weir bridge is to be closed to all traffic in 2020.
Cr Thomas asked if the weir bridge would be closed in 2020 to pedestrians as well as vehicles. Mr Butler said he would obtain the answer but guessed it would be closed to pedestrians.
A spokesperson from Murray Darling Basin Commission stated recently that the authority is planning to maintain pedestrian and cycle access on the weir bridge from 2020.
Sneaker thieves on the run
Two males and a female acted together to steal five pairs of Nike runners worth $570 from Wingates Sports store in Belmore Street last week. One of the males picked up the shoes in orange boxes and ran from the shop last Monday, September 17. He was described as 18 to 30-years-old with short shaved hair and was wearing dark clothing. The male accomplice was 35 to 40-years-old wearing light coloured jeans and was described as having big ears. The female was 40 to 50-years-old with long red curly hair, a nose ring and was wearing dark tights.
Members of the community are reminded to call 000 for police attendance. For general advice check the Victoria Police website at www.police.vic.gov.au or call your local police. Anyone with information in relation to any offence can contact their local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic. com.au
Federation Councillor Paul Miegel is afraid that further procrastination will certainly defer a new bridge.