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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Let's plan NOW for a Drysdale bypass!

There has been a lot of interest recently in the proposed Drysdale bypass, but without careful planning it could take away trade as it takes away traffic.

Local papers have reported recently that the case for a Drysdale bypass has been strengthened by the closure of the Corio tip and the subsequent increase in the number of garbage trucks travelling through Drysdale. In the Geelong Advertiser (14 December), Tom Bennett wrote, 'From Monday January 2, 90 per cent of Geelong's rubbish will end up at the Drysdale landfill on the Bellarine Peninsula. It means about 30 large semi-trailer sized vehicles will be funnelled through central Drysdale en route to the tip each week.'

Similarly, the front page story in The Echo (15 December) said, 'Calls for a Drysdale bypass road are getting louder as the town braces for an influx of Geelong garbage trucks in the new year.' The story quoted local ward councillor Rod Macdonald: 'the state government must make a commitment to the concept of a bypass'; and Bellarine MP Lisa Neville: 'The addition of garbage trucks ... places added pressure on municipal and state authorities to commit to the bypass.'

The proposed bypass was also a focus of discussions in recent council-run workshops to sketch the future of Drysdale town centre. At those workshops, local people said that a bypass would make Drysdale a safer and more pleasant place to live, work and visit. However, they also said that a bypass could either strengthen or weaken the local economy, depending on how it was implemented.

A good idea?
A Drysdale bypass will offer a quicker alternative route to semi-trailers and trucks travelling through the town, making it a safer and more pleasant place. However, it will offer convenience of this alternative route to all traffic - semi-trailers, trucks, vans, cars, bikes and motor bikes. The makes it less likely that their drivers will stop - and shop - in Drysdale.

So despite the growing support for a Drysdale bypass, it won't necessarily - and by itself - improve the quality of life in the town. As it takes away traffic, it could also take away trade and weaken the local economy. However, with careful planning and preparation, a Drysdale bypass could not just relieve traffic but also boost the local economy.

A bypass is like a coin with two sides. On one side of the coin is a town in decline because travellers are - literally - bypassing it; on the other side is a town that is booming because it has acted to increase its attractiveness to locals and travellers alike. Planning for a Drysdale bypass could be a defence against potential loss of trade, but the bypass could also be an 'excuse' to positively rethink the town to make it even more attractive, vibrant and successful than it is already.

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