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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Drysdale bypass - what's the secret, Minister?

Peak hour - Drysdale High Street
VicRoads is undertaking yet another study into traffic issues in Drysdale, even while keeping its previous study a secret.

In December 2012, VicRoads completed a feasibility study into a bypass for Drysdale, but hasn't published it. Lisa Neville (MP for Bellarine) has requested a copy of this secret study from state Transport Minister Terry Mulder, but he has failed to provide one.

Meanwhile, VicRoads is undertaking another study, this time to create an Integrated Transport Model for Drysdale that will propose a 'holistic' solution to the town's traffic problems. The new study has no completion date and it isn't clear whether it will be published.

DCSCA Committee members heard about the latest study on 18 June, when they discussed Drysdale's traffic problems with Lisa Neville and representatives of the City of Greater Geelong. Lisa Neville had called the meeting; the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) was represented by local councillors Rod Macdonald (Cheetham ward) and Lindsay Ellis (Coryule ward) and by Gary Van Dreel, General Manager of City Services. The Regional Director of VicRoads had been invited but at the last minute he withdrew and was unable to provide an alternative. 

Seeking a 'holistic' traffic solution
The absence of any VicRoads representatives at the 18 June meeting precluded any serious discussion about local traffic issues. For instance, has VicRoads updated its 2011 Drysdale census, which found 18,000 vehicles a day using the High Street? That figure is well on the way to the 24,000 vehicles a day that would trigger the building of a bypass; and in the ensuing two years, major housing estates have started in Jetty Road and Murradoc Road and 'infill development' is creating more houses on empty blocks. So it's not a question of whether traffic in Drysdale High Street will reach the 24,000 vehicles/day trigger point but when; and it makes sense to start building the bypass now, rather than wait until 24,000 vehicles/day bring the High Street to a halt.

(Incidentally, a big DCSCA 'Welcome!' to new residents to the area.)

The absence of any VicRoads representatives also precluded any discussion about what the elements of a 'holistic' solution could be, but they could include upgrading existing outlying roads, rather than creating a new bypass. VicRoads estimates that the Drysdale bypass will cost $60-80 million. It owns about half of the land required to build the bypass and is acquiring the rest as it comes on the market.

The secret to success?
VicRoads looks to local planning bodies for guidance on which roads should be built next; and while a Drysdale bypass is on the priority list of the regional planning body G21, it isn't a stated CoGG priority. So while people in Drysdale await the publication of the existing secret feasibility study into the bypass, together with the forthcoming Integrated Transport Model, they may wish to ask their local councillors, 'How many secret reports does it take to build a bypass?'