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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Interest grows in 'rogue bridge'

The City of Greater Geelong's (CoGG) decision to allow an 'unlimited load' bridge to be built from Bayshore Avenue into the northern end of the Jetty Road Urban Growth Area is attracting growing opposition and media interest.

Residents argue that an 'unlimited load' bridge would take a heavy toll on their way of life, on their safety and on their fragile natural environment and cultural heritage. A decision of this sort of significance would normally be subject to public scrutiny through the formal planning process, but local people heard about this 'rogue bridge' only once the council had decided to allow it. 864 residents have signed a petition to state Planning Minister Matthew Guy, calling on him to intervene in the issue.

Media interest in 'rogue bridge' grows
The likely effects of CoGG's extraordinary decision on local people has caught the interest of the local media:
  • August 10. The Geelong Advertiser published an article by local resident John Boland - a 'leading light' in the opposition - outlining the case against the bridge ('Jetty Road a bridge too far').
  • August 12. The Independent ran a story ('Bridge bypass to Guy's office') based on an interview with John Boland.
  • August 23. The Bellarine Times published a letter from Gary Dean - another 'leading light' in the opposition.
  • August 25. The Echo published an article about the issue ('Springs bridge fears'), plus another letter from Gary Dean.
Plans are afoot for further coverage. The Independent plans to feature the rogue bridge in its next edition (26 August); and the Bellarine Times plans to feature it in its next edition (30 August).

DCSCA supporting local people
Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) is supporting local residents' opposition to this 'rogue bridge', pointing out that its construction would contradict CoGG's earlier assurances to local people - given via the formal planning process - that a bridge here will have minimal impact on their lives. (see 'A troubling bridge over local waters' on this blog, August 19 2011). DCSCA has sent individual letters to Richard Marles (federal MP), David Koch and Lisa Neville (state MPs), Matthew Guy (state Planning Minister), Jeanette Powell (state Local Government Minister), John Mitchell (Mayor, Geelong) and Rod Macdonald (local councillor, Cheetham Ward). Each letter explains why DCSCA is supporting the residents and invites the addressee to lend their support, too.

What next?
Clearly, this issue won't go away. The only thing in doubt is just when the council will sit down with local people, hear their concerns about the rogue bridge and say what it will do to allay their fears. Until that time, local opposition and media interest both look set to increase.

(Illustration - local residents gather at the site of the proposed bridge over Griggs Creek.)

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