Bridge priority meeting sought
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.”