Council wants bridge status talks
The new Federation Council wants to talk with Moira Shire Council, and the NSW and Victorian Governments regarding the current status of the planning for the new Yarrawonga Mulwala Traffic Bridge.
Federation Council discussed the topic at yesterday’s monthly meeting following a recommendation from Interim General Manager Adrian Butler for council to hold talks with authorities about the planning stage, on the motion of Crs Bronwyn Thomas and Norm Wales.
The motion also includes, on the suggestion of Cr Paul Miegel, that council hold talks with Moira Shire “without prejudice” regarding the traffic route.
Both Vic Roads and NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services, together with the two state governments, have opted for the grey route and are planning accordingly.
“The VicRoads website reveals planning is well underway for the grey route, and many perceived advantages of this proposed route are on their website,” Mr Butler said.
“It is believed planning and investigations are well underway for this route, to prepare the Environmental Effects Statement (EES) Referral.”
The EES referral on the planning study to the Department of Environment, Land, Wa- ter and Planning (DELWP) was to be submitted by VicRaods in February.
The grey route is the route closer to the existing bridge, the green route closer to the rail line over Lake Mulwala near the weir bridge which is scheduled to close in 2020.
The last elected council covering Mulwala (Corowa Shire Council) unanimously endorsed the grey route after reports from the state authorities. That unanimous support included its experienced and now retired planning director Bob Parr, former General Manager Bruce Corcoran, Mayor Fred Longmire, Deputy Mayor Paul Miegel, and Crs Gail Law and Norm Wales.
The last Corowa Shire Council resolution in 2014 prior to amalgamation with Urana Shire Council to become Federation Council on May 12, 2016 confirmed its support for the grey route, not to take ownership of the old (existing) bridge due to the cost and that if Moira and Corowa councils could not agree on the same route, the decision be made by the two road authorities in NSW and Victoria, and that council support their decision.
“The new council met with Vic Roads and RMS in Mulwala in November 2017. Council was provided with information and a presentation was given,” Mr Butler said. “There was no formal resolution as this was a workshop.”
At yesterday’s meeting in Corowa, Cr Longmire strongly defended the existing resolution by the former Corowa Shire Council.
“I absolutely support our position,” he said. “Don’t go away from this chamber saying we’re going to change.”
Cr Longmire said all authorities agreed on the grey route except Moira Shire Council.
Cr Gail Law supported Cr Longmire’s stance, saying council chose the grey route to enable less disruption for Mulwala ratepayers.
“It would be just absolutely ridiculous holding up the start of the bridge,” she said.
Cr Shaun Whitechurch said there may have been very good reasons for the Corowa Shire Council’s decision to support the grey route.
“But every town doing new roadworks is bypassing a town,” he said.
“You have to look to 100 years, 60 or 70 years ahead, the bypass would be better.”
Cr Longmire said the Albury/ Wodonga “bypass” runs right through the middle of the towns, labelling it “magnificent.”
Cr Thomas said talks with Moira Shire present an opportunity for the new Federation Council.
Moira Shire Council wants the green route, especially following a plebiscite it held in September 2017 which showed out of a 56.5% participation, 3,159 people favoured the green route and 969 wanted the grey route.
An Environmental Effects Statement referral for the new bridge planning study was to be submitted by VicRoads in February.