From out of left field came the announcement yesterday that, should the Liberal Party be reelected in the upcoming NSW State election then Moruya can expect to see a four lane bypass within four years. While the President of the Moruya Chamber, Jude Manahan, (Audio below) has her own reservations and wants to see more details the fact is that there are only a few spots the by-pass can go.
Option 1. below would see the highway run parallel using the current unformed Crown Road reserves of Main Street on the northern side of the river that runs from North Head Road to the end of Guthrie Street. From there the RMS would have to acquire farmland to head due north or to swing back onto the existing highway.
Above: Option 1 ? Utilising existing unformed Crown Road Reserves to minimise farmland acquisition.
In the south the existing unformed Crown Road Reserve is William Street which then crosses South Head Road. This continues over swampy land towards the TAFE where it ends so a swing would be required to acquire farmland for the bypass to continue meeting up with the highway heading south. Keep in mind the promise is for a four lane highway bypass with a four lane bridge. According to the current RMS Princes Highway Strategy August 2016 the Moruya Bridge is in poor condition and has various spalled areas on concrete in critical elements that need to be repaired, cracks along the northbound and southbound footpath, scouring at pier 1 that needs to be addressed. The painting system on the steel girders is in poor condition as well requiring prompt attention to arrest further deterioration. The Strategy does say however that even though the bridge is in poor condition, the bridge is sound to carry traffic loading, as the majority of the deterioration is not in critical structural elements. It suggests the development and commencement of a maintenance strategy to address the issues causing the Poor Bridge Health Index rating. This is good news. It means the current highway and bridge can be retained while they build a bypass. With a flyover of the swampy section of the flood prone William Street section and South Head Road there would also be minimal disruption while the bypass is being built. But where is the public engagement? Many in the community had already begun to consider the land adjacent to the TAFE would be a perfect place for a new Regional Hospital. Is this why they need to consider the bypass so quickly? Organise the bypass before you locate your new hospital? A disappointment today was to read the "SEATS chair: FIX IT NOW campaign catalyst for highway funding" headline in a 9NINEFax newspaper quoting South East Australian Transport Strategy Patricia White executive member as saying of the $960m funding announcement for the Princes Highway "Congratulations to your team, without the South Coast Register and the Bay Post it wouldn't have happened" . The South East Australian Transport Strategy, now under the Chair of Marianne Pelz of East Gippsland, has for three decades lobbied for upgrades to the Princes Highway. There have been countless reports and meetings at all levels of government attended by engineers, safety experts, transport experts, police, RTA and RMS representatives and the many executive members who have come and gone from this body. The RMS have also committed much effort and research into establishing priorities for the Princes Highway Corridor based on accident figures, regional transport improvements and guided by State and Federal budget allocations. The Princes Highway Corridor Strategy August 2016 is the result of all of this collective effort. To offer a passing comment by a SEATS member that the announcement of $960m "wouldn't have happened" "without the South Coast Register and the Bay Post " makes a mockery of the entire strategy that is driven by so many professionals, lobbyists and politicians with much credit going to the more recent elected members of Ann Sudmalis, Andrew Constance and Mike Kelly who have all worked tirelessly with the many professionals and have respected the network analysis of safety and delivery to establish the best possible outcomes driven by intelligent priority. Below are just a few of the many charts from the Princes Highway Corridor Strategy August 2016
In the Princes Highway Corridor strategy, just two and half years old, it states, in part: The need for town bypasses on the Princes Highway has been assessed using the principles set out in the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan. No current plans are in place for other towns and villages on the Princes Highway however Table 5-11 lists those that may require bypassing beyond the term of this corridor strategy.
It is of little wonder that the Moruya community were taken by surprise of the announcement of the Moruya by-pass, from SEATS members down to local Councillors. Eurobodalla Councillor Anthony Mayne is a member of SEATS and, with his SEATS hat on he offered the following comment today:
Princess Highway Funding - Good News
Wonderful to hear some of the positive news about the Princess Highway and some proposed projects, including additional funding for the Kings Highway.
Congratulations to all the work done by so many people/groups, over many, many years who have been encouraging government support for the Highway; including of course the Fix it Now campaign by South Coast Register, Bay Post / Moruya Examiner, the Fix the Bloody Highway by Gary Smith in The Beagle, my colleagues at South East Australian Transport Strategy (SEATS) including Sue Whelan OAM and Chair Marianne Pelz of East Gippsland, Clr Patricia White of Shoalhaven City Council and Warren Sharpe of Eurobodalla Shire Council.
Yes we need to ensure that there is Federal Government support for the 80/20 funding arrangement. Looking forward to hearing the thoughts of both federal and state ALP candidates.
More work to be done of course by the State Gov, including community, social, commercial and environmental impacts of the proposed Moruya by-pass.
I think we need to continue to advocate for the Highway Corridor Strategy, including the Narooma bridge, Mogo bridge (being a critical pinch point) and I believe also for for an off ramp on the new Batemans Bay bridge - as there is no off ramp proposed for traffic heading north. So the impact to these shops along the foreshore in the Bay needs to be appreciated. Such an assessment is also important for the potential impact on commercial businesses in Moruya re the by-pass.
These announcements can all be seen in terms of the Princess Highway strategy, which aims to realise a safe and more efficient highway corridor for all of our communities. Notwithstanding some of the priorities may have changed, the general direction is a positive one.