Cheap fix

A SHOCK new heavy vehicle alternate route has been announced for Leongatha.

Instead of travelling along Hughes Street and across an intersection into Long Street, trucks will be forced to negotiate a left turn from Anderson Street into Roughead Street followed by a hard right hand turn into Long Street.

Concerns  have already been raised that traffic could still bank up in Anderson Street due to trucks being forced to give way to oncoming traffic while waiting to turn right into Long Street.

Taking shape: South Gippsland Shire Council’s strategic planning and development manager Paul Stampton (left) and VicRoads acting regional director Brendan Pauwels inspect the alternate route design.

Taking shape: South Gippsland Shire Council’s strategic planning and development manager Paul Stampton (left) and VicRoads acting regional director Brendan Pauwels inspect the alternate route design.

The heavy vehicle route mooted for Leongatha is not the ideal solution but the best option given the level of State Government funding available.

That was the message delivered to the public by South Gippsland Shire Council at a briefing at the Leongatha RSL last Wednesday.

Council’s strategic planning and development manager Paul Stampton said the design was the most affordable and workable, and mayor Cr Kieran Kennedy said, “This route would be better than nothing.”

“It will be better than it is now,” he said.

The route has prompted a cautious response from the Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

President Peter Watchorn said the route would buoy the town at a time when Leongatha was receiving a new hospital, Holden dealership, Salvation Army complex and Aldi supermarket.

“It will free up Bair Street and will certainly help with the redevelopment of that,” he said.

The mayor was not sure when work would start but once the project is fully funded, detailed design, tender selection and construction could take at least 18 months.

The alternate route is designed to direct heavy vehicles such as trucks out of Bair Street – at least 600 a day.

That will make Bair Street more appealing to pedestrians, with possibly several crossings, single lane traffic and angle parking, including 40 extra carparks. Three parking spaces at the Strzelecki Highway-Anderson Street intersection would go.

Engineers are yet to finalise the design and many of the public’s questions could not be answered at the briefing.

Brendan Pauwels, VicRoads acting regional director, told the public at the briefing: “We think this is a practical and realistic solution but it does not mean we cannot tweak it to meet your needs.”

The route will divert trucks travelling from Melbourne left at the Strzelecki-Bass highways intersection and right into Long Street. Trucks will then continue through the remodelled Ogilvy-Long streets intersection. That junction will be expanded to include part of the existing vacant land owned by VicRoads.

Trucks turning left at the Anderson Street-Strzelecki Highway junction will not have to giveway there (traffic coming from the CBD will giveway instead), but will be required to giveway to oncoming traffic when turning right into Long Street.

Residents in A’Beckett and Jeffery Streets will be able to turn left only into Long Street. The street will become the South Gippsland Highway and VicRoads does not want traffic to turn right across two lanes of highway traffic.

Jeffrey Street resident Cameron Kindellan asked why traffic was allowed to turn right into the highway from Owen Street, Blackmore Avenue and Parr Street.

Mr Pauwels responded: “We are putting the highway onto an undivided road whereas the existing highway has divisions there.”

Mr Kindellan asked how trucks wishing to refuel at the service station in Bair Street could access the station.

Mr Stampton said: “More work has to be done around that area.” He suggested the service station may need to be relocated in the future.

Mr Kindellan asked how trucks wishing to turn right from Long Street into the Strzelecki Highway would do so. Mr Stampton said the complete design was yet to be finalised.

Mr Kindellan said the eventual closure of Simons Lane at the Bass Highway would direct more trucks through Leongatha, but Mr Pauwels believed most trucks now travelled through the Leongatha CBD.

Former shire councillor Mike Wrigley mentioned the ambulance station was based in Jeffery Street and paramedics would need to turn right out of there to attend an emergency. Mr Stampton said that point was valid and would require further investigation.

The route would use the existing road network and not impact on existing houses or businesses.

“There will be a staged crossing for school kids at Ogilvy Street and we could need to revaluate where the school crossing would best be,” Mr Stampton said.

A man asked why not bypass the whole town, but Mr Stampton said that would be too expensive.

Concerns were raised about the lack of a footpath along Long Street.

The government allocated $270,000 to the design and a stakeholder reference group was established to inform the project.

Council and VicRoads will finalise the design and council will design improvements to Bair Street.

Gippsland South MLA and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said VicRoads had taken into consideration safety, environmental constraints, heritage, land acquisition, traffic engineering requirements and social impacts.

“The chosen alignment provides the best solution in terms of cost, time and safety,” Mr Ryan said.

“It also means there will be minimal impact on adjoining properties, and by using the existing road network, it would not require a Planning Scheme Amendment to proceed.”

Mr Ryan said Leongatha was one of the region’s most vibrant communities and the provision of a heavy vehicle alternative route is a priority for the future development of the town.

The route has not been fully costed but could be worth up to $5 million.

The project has been mooted for 40 years and some 15 designs have been completed in the past 10-20 years.

The latest design is expected to meet Leongatha’s needs for the next 15 years.

The route is a priority project for council.

Nearby residents were annoyed they only received notification by mail of the council briefing the same day the meeting was held.

Council and VicRoads will hold a community information session at the council chambers at Memorial Hall on Tuesday, September 9 from 2-7pm.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=8392

Posted by on Sep 3 2013. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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