Where to now for the Princes Highway: it all sadly lacks any vision at all
There appears to be an increase in interest regarding the upgrade of the Princes Highway with even the suggestion from the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance adding that he would like to see divided carriageway from Jervis Bay to the Victorian Border . As planning and advice to the RMS for a multi lane Princes Highway (4 ) lane as announced by the Hon. Andrew Constance recently is being developed, many matters need thorough investigation and prioritising. The planned new bridge over the Clyde River at Batemans Bay will not necessarily improve traffic flows much if at all, because of the sets of traffic lights with more proposed between the Clyde River, Bridge and the Batemans Bay Cemetery adjacent to Cranbrook Rd. All traffic heading in a southerly direction on the Princes Highway out of Batemans Bay, even to the new link when that’s sorted out, will need to pass through traffic lights and so will the North Bound Traffic. The suggestion of a roundabout at Beach Road and the Princes highway put forward by Eurobodalla Council's Clr Phil Constable was too readily dismissed and with the proposal of new lights at the intersection of the Old Highway (South end of Orient Street) and the new highway we will see four set of lights within a kilometre of what is looking more and more like the Industrial highway alleyway of South Nowra, where at least, they had the foresight to install roundabouts. A completely new Princes Highway corridor that by passes Batemans Bay and even Mogo is what’s required. Mogo has a bridge that seems to be failing as well. One of the Councils local engineers for some reason seems think that a new Princes Highway corridor may in the long term create a financial liability for the council in relation to maintenance requirements of the old or present Princes Highway if the route is significantly changed. The truth of the matter is that he has justified concerns because once a highway bypasses a town the old highway and its maintenance becomes the responsibility of the local Council. Beach Road in Batemans Bay is currently an RMS funded Regional Road but when the new link road to bypass Batemans Bay is finally open it is widely believed that the RMS will discontinue its funding of that road and focus instead on the new regional route. With considerable pavement problems on Beach Road the maintenance of that road will become a financial burden to ratepayers. It is now understood that the local engineer has been in discussions with the RMS about the future bypass of Narooma realising that any bypass will see Council inherit the old road corridor. It is very obvious that for the b-double dream to will see economies of scale bought to the South East it is essential they can traverse our bridges and make their way through out towns. The new Batemans Bay Bridge is supposed to enable B-Doubles however immediately south are the pinch points of the Mogo Bridge, Moruya town roundabouts and the Narooma Bridge. Moving south past Mogo to Moruya there is significant traffic congestion in the main street of Moruya ( the Princes Highway ) through to the Moruya TAFE area on a daily basis now, mainly as a result of traffic lights in the main street and two right turns at each end of the Moruya Bridge over the Moruya River. Moruya needs urgent attention with a by pass probably to the east of the present Princes Highway route. Of concern is that there is no recognition of this in any long term planning statement by the RMS and Council has offered no lobbying at all for it with it being off the radar completely for the SEATS committee seemingly fixated with the Shoalhaven region. Then there’s Bodalla a bit further south from Moruya where a four lane highway will be required with a by pass. Narooma also has traffic flow issues that need similar treatments to that required at Bodalla. Surveyors have been seen recently at Narooma on the northern side of the bridge and Blind Freddy can see that this will be the next South East bridge to be upgraded. It’s now understood a new bridge has been planned for Narooma. Whether or not it will cater for 4 lanes of traffic not sure just now but it should. That explains why the local engineer would be looking at what the RMS plan for their long term vision that has always had a clear pathway dedicated for that very purpose providing an Internal Bypass of the town.
Above: Does the local engineer prefer keeping the Narooma bypass closer. How will those in the RMS bypass corridor react when the bypass, essential for b-doubles and increased highway volumes begin to impact on their views, property values and peace and quiet?
But what about the viability of an external bypass?
Above: Councillor Constable suggests a bypass via Reedy Creek - they laughed in Victoria when it was suggested that Lakes Entrance should be bypassed but then... look at what they have now achieved with the Bruthen Bypass - all part of the South East Area Transport Strategy.
Councillor Phil Constable called for a meeting of all tiers of government, relevant ministers, lobby groups, South East councils engineers and councillors and RMS advisors to look solely at the long term vision for the Princes Highway. One idea he wanted to put forward was a bypass of Narooma that would traverse Reedy Creek that had few hills and no need for substantive bridges. The South East Area Transport Strategy ideas for the Princes Highway Corridor in the Eurobodalla Shire have been long in discussions with little if anything revealed and what little they have in regards to the Princes Highway has not been publicly tested. Now we hear that a government contractor has been set in place to gain feedback from "key players" to attract "public input" to long term planning. What we do know is that Councillor Constable's request for a round table meeting is as justified today as it was two years ago and had Eurobodalla staff carried out the actions of Councillor Constable's motion and organised that meeting we might be better placed now as we approach both a State and Federal election. In the meantime what we have is a lack of vision and an infill of politically driven projects that are done in isolation of any big picture. This article is compiled with contribution of Allan Brown