MAYOR AND MINISTER TALK CHANDLER HIGHWAY UPGRADE
By Caitlin McArthur
Yarra City Council Mayor, Roberto Colanzi, sat down with Roads Minister Luke Donnellan last week to discuss ongoing concerns over the Chandler Highway upgrade.
Mayor Colanzi said the meeting focused on the impact the plans would have on existing residents, the failure to incorporate public transport into the revamp and the need for the Minister to release the business case for the project.
“Essentially, we’re proposing that the preferred option that has been accepted, not be the preferred option,” Mayor Colanzi said.
Mayor Colanzi said the Minister listened to these concerns and the council was hopeful steps would be taken to reduce the impact on the local community.
The Chandler Highway carries 44, 000 vehicles per day and congestion has been a major issue for a while now, but the proposed upgrade has drawn more than a little criticism from the council and residents.
Under the VicRoads proposal, a six-lane expansion of the Chandler Highway and the construction of a new bridge to the west of the existing one would alleviate the traffic log.
The close proximity of the road extension and the new bridge to homes and backyards has worried residents said Colanzi, who added VicRoads had more work to do in addressing these concerns.
“Something ultimately has to be done, but building a bridge that is essentially just going to be for private vehicle use is only going to delay the problem again,” Mayor Colanzi said
Mayor Colanzi said the plans in their current form have the potential to act as a short-term solution only. An increase in bus services and routes would provide commuters with an alternative that could ease the traffic log, he said
”If these were adopted into the plans, a bridge may still be needed but it might not need to be as big or as bold as preferred here.”
VicRoads project director, Damien Afxentis said a range of considerations were taken into account in determining the preferred option.
“The alignment will have less impact on significant native trees and surrounding land and will not require any acquisition of residential properties or land,” he said.
He maintains that the plans in their current form are an effective solution.
“It will remove the existing bottleneck, reduce the traffic queues along Chandler Highway over the Yarra River and save drivers around eight minutes during morning peak and 13 during afternoon peak,” he said.
The lack of public transport plans has been of particular concern, but may yet be incorporated into the upgrade.
“We are in discussion with Public Transport Victoria about more frequent bus services and a dedicated bus lane on Chandler Highway,” he said.
Mr Afxentis also said VicRoads had consulted with the community during the planning process and would continue to do so in an effort to address concerns.
The Andrews Government has allocated $110 million towards the project, with construction expected to begin in mid 2017.
Caitlin studied journalism at La Trobe University. She enjoys covering community and political issues. You can follow her on Twitter at @CaitlinMcArthu1.