Bridge pri­or­ity meet­ing sought

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY ROBERT MUIR

A new Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Traf­fic Bridge de­serves to be rated higher than a ‘medium term pri­or­ity in­vest­ment’ ac­cord­ing to Moira Shire Coun­cil.

With five, ‘short term pri­or­ity’ bridges listed be­fore Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala, and one which is equalled with Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala as a ‘medium term pri­or­ity’, it could be 10 years be­fore we see a new bridge across Lake Mul­wala.

At its monthly meet­ing last Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 26 in Nathalia, Moira Shire coun­cil­lors unan­i­mously agreed to seek a meet­ing with Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil, Re­gional Roads Vic­to­ria, and Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices NSW to dis­cuss the Mur­ray River Cross­ings In­vest­ment Pri­or­i­ties As­sess­ment Re­port.

All Moira coun­cil­lors also re­solved to sup- port the up­grad­ing of the Yar­ra­wonga/Mul­wala Traf­fic Bridge along the green route as a high pri­or­ity.

“Moira Shire is very dis­ap­pointed in the as­sess­ment re­port,” Moira’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Mark Hen­der­son told the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle.

“Its anal­y­sis just doesn’t stack up to com­pare a curved, long bridge over a lake with a short, straight bridge ahead of it in pri­or­ity.

“The Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala bridge is nearly a cen­tury old, yet the re­port puts the mod­ern con­crete Mil­dura bridge ahead of it in pri­or­ity. That’s just one com­par­i­son that doesn’t make sense.”

Moira Shire of­fi­cers have re­viewed the as­sess­ment and for­mally ad­vised Vicroads North East­ern Man­ager the re­port is not sup­ported.

Mr Hen­der­son said coun­cil, in its re­sponse, said the bridge should have a higher rat­ing score be­cause the bridge has been scored in­con­sis­tently against the ob­jec­tives cri­te­ria com­pared to those bridge cross­ings that have been scored as a short term pri­or­ity.

“The con­cern is that with the im­pend­ing clo­sure of the Weir Bridge in 2020 (and the im­mi­nent im­po­si­tion of a lo­cal road limit on the Bur­ley Road Bridge over the ir­ri­ga­tion chan­nel), all heavy and other ve­hi­cles cur­rently us­ing the Weir Bridge will have to travel through the Bel­more Street shop­ping strip,” the re­port states.

“The con­se­quence be­ing in­creased risk for road users, in­creased traf­fic con­ges­tion in Bel­more Street and po­ten­tial im­pact upon the vi­a­bil­ity of the busi­nesses within Bel­more Street as cus­tomers look for places to shop where ac­cess and park­ing are eas­ier.”

Spe­cific jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for Moira’s re­sponse in­cluded many rea­sons as to why the bridge should re­ceive a high rat­ing:

• Two of the short term pri­or­ity bridges have the same car­riage width as Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala but were as­sessed as a sin­gle lane thus re­ceiv­ing a higher rat­ing score. The bridge is as­sessed as a two lane bridge with a lower rat­ing score.

• Traf­fic lanes on the bridge bend are less than the rec­om­mended 3.5m width to suit B-Dou­bles track­ing path.

• Lack of weight­ing given to higher traf­fic vol­umes as Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Bridge has much higher volume com­pared to the bridges listed as short term in­vest­ment pri­or­ity.

• Likely im­pacts on traf­fic con­ges­tion in Bel­more Street in the event that one lane is tem­po­rar­ily closed.

• The as­sess­ment re­port has adopted a pop­u­la­tion an­nual growth of 0.9% for Yar­ra­wonga.

• Yar­ra­wonga Growth Man­age­ment Strat­egy fore­cast an an­nual growth rate of 2.4% for Yar­ra­wonga and this fig­ure should be used in the as­sess­ment re­port.

• The as­sess­ment should con­sider fu­ture in­crease of heavy ve­hi­cle traf­fic as a re­sult of in­dus­try in­vest­ment such as Grain Corp’s fa­cil­i­ties up­grade in Yar­ra­wonga. Moira Shire Coun­cil’s res­o­lu­tion last Thurs­day was on the mo­tion of Crs Peter Mans­field and John Law­less.

Both com­mented that it was im­per­a­tive that “ev­ery­body get on the same side” and that it was dis­ap­point­ing the down­grad­ing in pri­or­ity for a new Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Traf­fic Bridge.

“Neigh­bour­ing Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil has also ex­pressed its dis­ap­point­ment at the rank­ing and is work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with Mora Shire to se­cure a higher rat­ing,” Mr Hen­der­son said.

At its lat­est meet­ing, on Septem­ber 18, Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment at the bridge’s re­duced pri­or­ity. It re­solved to en­gage with VicRoads, and Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices NSW re­gard­ing the sub­stan­tially re­duced pri­or­ity rat­ing for a new Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Traf­fic Bridge.

Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil also de­cided to spend an es­ti­mated $30,000 to have the Mul­wala com­mu­nity sur­veyed to de­ter­mine their pre­ferred bridge align­ment for the new bridge. A pri­vate firm will un­der­take the sur­vey as soon as pos­si­ble, as re­ported in last week’s Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle.

“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 of Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil said.

Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil’s Gen­eral Man­ager Adrian But­ler vented his dis­plea­sure at the fur­ther de­lay in build­ing a bridge. “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.”

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