The recently formed Moruya Bypass Action Group are voicing a number of concerns around what they cite as a lack of genuine community consultation, the transparency of the process and information which has not been included in the Strategic Corridor Options Report.
A group spokesperson told The Beagle "We have asked Transport for NSW for this information and are calling for an extension of time to make submissions until after the following information is received and can be properly considered.
1. The initial community consultation which was used as a basis for the bypass options was conducted in March/April 2020. This was just after the bushfires of 2019/20 and at the start of COVID-19 restrictions. People were not thinking about a future bypass. They were still traumatised by the bushfires and then retraumatised by a complete lockdown a month later.
The lack of engagement at this time is evident as only 232 people provided submissions, which is not representative of the diversity of the Moruya community. Moruya and surrounds has a population of over 7,000. Due to Covid restrictions, this initial consultation was largely online which would have excluded a large number of older or disadvantaged residents.
2. The current consultation period was launched at a time when Telstra was servicing the network and many people only had intermittent access to internet and mobile phone reception. Much of the communication from Transport for NSW was online and the community was only given one week’s notice about the community consultation sessions.
Moruya has an ageing population and not all people are comfortable with technology. The only attempt by Transport for NSW to reach these people was the distribution of 2,500 postcards and two local market information sessions.
3. The presentation of the preferred option by Transport for NSW in brochures and online was interpreted by many in the community as a “done deal” and this led to people not bothering to properly engage in the community consultation process. The presentation of the preferred option as something Transport for NSW had already decided disempowered people who felt that a decision had already been made.
The survey which Transport for NSW are encouraging the community to fill out is skewed towards supporting their preferred option. Question 6 asks questions which could be true of any of the bypass options. We are asking for this question not to be used as an indication of community support.
4. The Moruya bypass - Strategic Corridor Options Report
This report does not contain a detailed evaluation of options nor does include a justification of the rankings used as the basis for recommending the Orange route.
The Value Assessment Rankings on page 78 are not substantiated within the report. We do not know how these rankings were arrived at and there are serious flaws in the logic used. For example, the Orange route received a rating of 1 for Sustainability even though it is acknowledged that it has adverse impacts on 4 of the 6 equally weighted criteria used to determine this ranking (page 83). How can that be? When asked about this at a community consultation session, the Project Manager could not answer the question.
Without a clear justification for these rankings, there is no substantiated basis for the selection of their preferred option.
5. The transparency of the process
The process largely excludes the community who are being asked to accept the selection without being informed of the analysis that compared the five short-listed options.
When the Project Manager was asked at the community consultation sessions about the rankings table, he indicated that it was developed at the Value Management Workshop. There is no detail within the report about the process used to derive the rankings, source documents used, and how various interests were taken into consideration.
Costing, technical issues and risk assessment were considered in a Corridor Review Workshop but there is no detail within the Strategic Corridor Options Report about who attended (agencies, consultancies etc), how Moruya’s interests were represented, conflict of interest issues or source documentation.
Many of these detailed assessments have yet to commence and will only be conducted on the preferred option, not the other short-listed options. It appears that there has been no fully informed analysis of the various options and so there is no clear rationale for how the preferred option was arrived at.
6. How will this bypass option benefit the community more than any other?
There are no plans for on and off ramps at North Head Drive, South Head Road or for the new Eurobodalla Health Service. The Orange option will begin at Shelley Road and finish at Mountain View Road. According to Transport for NSW, it will need to be 5 metres high to go over the floodplain with piers situated 40 metres apart. It will then pass over the deepest part of the river, the exact location where the aerial firefighting planes needed to pick up water to save Moruya from the approaching bushfires in 2019/20.
There is no commitment that the bypass will be 4 lanes and even if it is, it will only be 4 lanes for 8 kilometres and then the traffic will merge back into two. What is the point of traffic travelling at 100km per hour over 8kms? It will create increased noise levels for the community due to the speed the traffic will be travelling and the elevation of the bypass.
How will Moruya accommodate the construction of the new hospital and a new bypass at the same time. There is an accommodation shortage in the Eurobodalla which will not be resolved quickly. The community is still recovering and trying to rebuild after the bushfires. People are still living in temporary accommodation waiting for rental properties to become available. It will be difficult enough for the property owners who will lose their homes due to the proposed bypass to find alternative housing and this will be exacerbated by the need for accommodation for construction crews who will be working on the hospital and the bypass.
The Moruya Bypass Action Group Call to action:
After extensive questioning at the community consultation sessions, the Moruya Bypass Project Manager admitted that their preferred option is NOT set in concrete. The local community has an opportunity to have its say by preparing a submission or commenting on the interactive map on the Moruya Bypass website by June 14.
A group of concerned locals have banded together to form the Moruya Bypass Action Group. We are here to help the community voice their concerns about the process of selection of the bypass option.
or Facebook: Moruya Bypass Action Group