Opinion

No easy road for council

By Shepparton News

At a Greater Shepparton City Council meeting soon, likely in the next couple of months, councillors are going to be tasked with a difficult decision.

The decision will be around preferred routes for an east-west connector section of the long-awaited and much-needed Goulburn Valley Hwy, Shepparton bypass.

The completion of this project is years away but, given the $1.3billion price tag, planning is well under way.

First things first, few disagree with the need for a Shepparton bypass.

A successful one would remove large, noisy B-double trucks from the Shepparton central business district, improving amenity for shops and city streets, improving safety for pedestrians, and boost productivity for trucking operators needlessly stopping at traffic lights.

The bone of contention here is around a section of the bypass which is currently earmarked to pass along Ford and Wanganui Rds.

Residents along this stretch have hatched a lengthy, vocal and arguably successful campaign to see alternative routes selected for this and endorsed.

They believe other routes exist.

The council has in the past said alternatives have been considered, but isn’t saying much on what that work has found yet.

It has, however, in the past suggested that endorsing an alternative route may stretch out timelines and cost.

This is far from ideal, given that the project has been discussed now for a period of time that can be measured in decades, rather than years.

VicRoads sees Ford and Wanganui Rds as its proposed east-west route, according to a project page and commentary.

The reality is, no-one wants trucks sailing past their home.

Residents should be commended for the length and breadth of their campaign to ensure other routes are considered, citing safety and planning concerns.

And councillors need to be cognisant of this when weighing up their forthcoming decision.

These are after all the very people whose views they are elected to represent.

But the question is, at what cost in the bigger scheme of making progress on a much-needed project?