The City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) proposes to allow an 'unlimited load' bridge to be built from Bayshore Avenue across Griggs Creek, allowing heavy construction machines to travel along narrow suburban streets into the northern end of the Jetty Road Urban Growth Area.
Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association is supporting local residents' opposition to the bridge, arguing that it would take a heavy toll on their way of life, on their safety and security and on their fragile environment and cultural heritage. DCSCA also believes that the proposal should be abandoned because it contradicts CoGG's earlier assurances to local people - via the formal planning process - that a bridge here will have minimal impact on their lives.
Changing the rules
A proposal for a road bridge from Bayshore Avenue over Griggs Creek featured in CoGG's 2008 Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs and was repeated in CoGG's 2010 Masterplan for the Jetty Road Urban Growth Area. The proposal has generated significant, consistent and growing opposition by local residents:
o in early 2008, 244 local residents signed a petition to CoGG opposing it
o in 2009, local residents repeated their opposition in a written submission concerning the then-proposed (subsequently adopted) Amendment C152 to the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme
o in June 2011, 864 local residents signed a petition to state Minister for Planning Matthew Guy opposing the bridge.
Despite residents' significant and growing opposition, CoGG decided recently (Development Hearing Panel, 7 July 2011) to change the status of the proposed bridge from 'local/minor' to 'unlimited load', so that the bridge can carry heavy construction machines into the northern end of the Jetty Road Urban Growth Area. While the original proposal for a bridge was developed through the formal, legal planning process (public exhibition, call for comment, etc.), CoGG's recent decision to change the status of the proposed bridge was not subject to public scrutiny in the planning process, even though it will increase the bridge’s impact on local people and on their physical and cultural environment.
Solving a problem that shouldn't have arisen
Enabling heavy construction machines to use the bridge to get access to the northern end of the Jetty Road Urban Growth Area is a solution to a problem that should never have arisen. The Jetty Road Urban Growth Area Masterplan includes no route along which heavy construction machinery can access the northern part of the development. A 'major collector road' is planned to run north from the Geelong-Portarlington road, then to turn east to meet Jetty Road at the junction with Wyndham Street. That east turn is approximately halfway along the development's north-south axis, yet no further major road to the northern part of the development is planned. Rather than accept that its bad planning has created this extraordinary situation and extend the major collector road northwards, CoGG is trying to make local residents pay for its mistake.
Creating needless risks
Allowing the northern part of the Growth Area to be developed on the basis of just one access road poses major safety risks. In the event of an accident, fire or crime, emergency and police vehicles will have only one point of access - the bridge - to the whole northern area, increasing their response times significantly. If the bridge is unusable for some reason, those response times and associated risks will increase further.
The proposed 'unlimited load' bridge will pose significant risks to local people's safety and security. Bayshore Avenue - like the roads surrounding it - is a narrow residential street with no footpaths and is barely wide enough to accommodate two cars passing each other. The roads were never intended to carry anything other than local residential traffic, yet CoGG has stated that it expects the proposed bridge to carry up to 3,000 vehicles a day. CoGG has stated that it will minimise and discourage use of the bridge, but it hasn’t said how. Bizarrely, the council is proposing a bridge and saying that it will discourage its use!
The proposed 'unlimited load' bridge will pose needless risks to the cultural heritage of the immediate area. In the last year, residents have watched as various aboriginal artefacts - including several clay 'heat balls' - were discovered in the area of the proposed bridge. It is unclear whether other artefacts remain in the area - if the bridge is built, we'll never know.
Finally, the 'unlimited load' bridge will threaten a particularly vulnerable environment. Local people have seen land slips at the nearby coastal cliff and in the banks of Griggs Creek and they report that the passage of heavy vehicles creates vibrations that can be felt underfoot. Nonetheless, CoGG is happy for enormous excavators, rollers and bulldozers to rumble across this already unstable land.