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Traffic gridlock

THE traffic congestion at Warrandyte Bridge has been a growing point of contention for Warrandyte locals with queues of cars often backed up for a few kilometres during peak hours.

The daily commute is becoming unbearable for many, causing frus- tration and concerns over residents’ safety in emergency situations.

The increasing outrage prompted North Warrandyte resident Jennie Hill to create the Fix the Warrandyte Bottleneck Facebook group in April last year. The page aims to encourage discussion about the congestion on the bridge, which continues on Yarra St, and find solutions. At this stage, reaching consensus is proving difficult.

“We can’t agree with the community on exactly what should be done to solve the problem so we can’t find a solution,” Ms Hill said.

With much discussion unfolding on the Fix the Warrandyte Bottleneck and Warrandyte Diary Facebook pages, residents are determined to find a solution. Suggestions include the installation of traffic lights (operating at peak times) at the roundabout of the bridge intersection, encouraging use of public buses, and widening of the bridge and/or building another bridge.

While many solutions seem plausible, opinion is divided. Some residents believe installing traffic lights is logical while others believe that common courtesy and giving way is more efficient. Construction of another bridge along the Yarra River in Warrandyte also seems a solution for some, but others may view it as an eyesore, not only damaging the character of Warrandyte but encouraging more traffic to pass through the quaint suburb.

Many locals are especially upset the traffic is not Warrandyte residents but from those living in surrounding suburbs. There is speculation the development of housing estates in areas such as South Morang, Epping and Whittlesea has created more traffic moving towards the city or down south.

“The traffic is not all local. I believe it’s from the growth areas around Doreen and Yan Yean looking for a way to go south without using the toll road. I also believe it is getting worse!” Lisa Upson commented on the Diary’s Facebook page.

The City of Whittlesea, which includes the suburbs of South Morang, Epping and Whittlesea, is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia.

According to population experts, forecast.id, the population of the City of Whittlesea is set to increase by almost 40,000 by 2020, indicating congestion is unlikely to ease in the future.

Snail’s pace: Jennie Hill stands near the Warrandyte bridge bottleneck during the school drop-off peak. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. We can’t go back to ‘old’ Warrandyte. The traffic is here and it’s only going to get worse. We need to stop complaining and find a solution.”

Resident Dori Jennings said her son had missed his connecting bus to school on several occasions because the first bus takes almost half an hour just to travel from Pigeon Bank Road to the IGA on Warrandyte Road about 4km.

Although the excessive traffic con- gestion is inconvenient and causing patience to wear thin, concerns sur- rounding emergency management are not being dismissed. Warrandyte is listed as one of 52 high fire risk locations in Victoria, according to the CFA. Along with narrow roads and numerous dead ends, the bridge congestion is another factor contrib- uting to Warrandyte’s access issues.

In the event of a bushfire, a mass evacuation may become a critical problem as the bridge is the only one out of Warrandyte.

“It’s only a matter of time before it’s a matter of life and death. How

do emergency vehicles get through traffic congestion in an emergency let alone bushfire situations?” Jade Shoppee commented on the Diary’s Facebook page.

Ms Hall acknowledges opinions are varied because of residents’ needs and proximity to the bridge, however, she maintains the foremost issue for everyone should be the preservation of life in the event of an emergency.

“The argument has to be turned around. People cannot look at it from the perspective of what is going to benefit them most but instead look at what’s important and what can potentially save lives… it’s about preserving lives and not just a matter of personal preferences.”

Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith has been seeking action on the matter from the Andrews gov- ernment for some time.

After Mr Smith took Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley to see the congestion, Mr Lapsley immediately initiated discus- sions with VicRoads and local councils to install Disaster Plan (Displan) boxes at both ends of the bridge. The Displan boxes were installed in late 2014 and contain emergency equipment to assist with traffic in the event of an emergency.

“Our No.1 concern during an emer- gency is the safe evacuation of people,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said he contacted the Minister for Roads and Road Safety in December last year but there has not been any more progress on the matter; the minister has reiterated that VicRoads would continue to work with the Warrandyte commu- nity on local traffic management issues.

According to VicRoads metro north-west regional director Adam Maguire, VicRoads is working with the CFA and Melbourne Water to look at water access and supply for fire brigades and is also investigating a range of options for this Yarra River crossing, including the construction of a second bridge or the widening of the existing bridge.

Mr Maguire said funding for these activities would be considered.

Although no plans are final, Mr Smith is determined to find a resolution for the community.

“I will continue to hold the Andrews government to account on this matter and to push for the study that was started last year to continue so that a workable solution can be found.”

To have your say or to read more about it, join the Fix the Warrandyte Bottleneck page on Facebook and keep an eye on the Diary Facebook page for more updates.

What’s on in Warrandyte – Five for Friday

Warrandyte is getting a taste of wintry weather – 16-degrees four days in a row and rain forecast. What to do aside from snuggling up with a loved one in front of fire? Try these:

1. Mother’s Day is Sunday and the Warrandyte Business Association will be having some musos doing the rounds at local cafes including Caz Nickson and her band A Country Practice outside the Stonehouse Gallery.

2. Peter Grant is rocking up a storm at the Grand Hotel Warrandyte tonight. Be There.

3. Ona & Syd have their open studios over the weekend at the corner of Henley and Oxley roads, Bend of Islands. Celebrating their joint 100 years of art making. Enjoy a cuppa in front of the fire and admire some beautiful pieces of art.

4. Venom’s Youth League women will be tearing up the court against Corio Bay Stingrays from 7pm tomorrow night at Warrandyte stadium. Be sure to cheer the girls on and watch some first class basketball action.

5. Remember to give your Mum a big cuddle and tell her you love her!

Diggers, we remember you – a beautiful ANZAC Day march and service

AN enormous turnout of locals paid their respects to our fallen with a special Centenary Dawn Service at Stiggants Reserve in Warrandyte this morning after the march.

The scene couldn’t have been more Warrandytian – more than a thousand residents lined Yarra St for the early morning march before walking to Stiggants Reserve for a moving service.Anzac Ben copy A mild, calm morning set the scene and towering gum trees on the banks of the Yarra provided a backdrop with branches clearly the best seats in the house for the vocal resident kookaburras and other birdlife.

From babies, children and pets to families, our senior citizens, dignitaries and particularly our 93-year-old last surviving digger, Ben Jones (pictured with his daughter Helen), the atmosphere was emotion-charged and everyone united as one to pay their respects.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary, the special service by the RSL Warrandyte Sub-Branch was headed up by immediate past president Henk Van Der Helm and included a Catafalque Party, bagpipers, singing by the Bellbird Singers, and a rousing rendition of Eric Bogle’s  The Band Played Walzting Matilda by Barry Carrozi.

That was followed by a touching poem and prayer, the wreath laying ceremony, The Ode by Robin Batty, Lament, a heart-warming Last Post and minute’s silence as rain started to fall and the sun started to rise. After the service, hundreds converged on the RSL Clubrooms for a Gunfire Breakfast hosted by the Lions Club.

Diggers, we remember you.

(More in the May edition of the Diary)

Pictures: BILL MCAULEY

 

What’s on in Warrandyte – Five For Friday

Another home game for the Bloods, ANZAC Day activities and some rip-roaring entertainment. Why wouldn’t you wanna be in Warrandyte in the coming days …

1. Warrandyte RSL dawn service, Stiggants Reserve at 6.15am. It’s 100 Years of ANZAC, the spirit lives 2014-2018. The march will commence at 6am from the car park opposite the pub and end at Stiggants where the service will take place. After the service, everyone is invited back to the RSL for a Gunfire Breakfast hosted by the Lions Club.

2. That’s not all that’s happening at the RSL. Book in Sunday for Bands By The Bridge, and it’s a beauty! Greg Champion and The Useful Members of Society is on from 4pm-8pm. BYO food platter welcome, band donations appreciated. Inquiries 9844 3567.  113 Brackenbury St, enter via Mitchell Ave.

3. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then rock on to the Grand Hotel Warrandyte for entertainment all weekend, including Electric Intent tonight and then the very talented Madison performing from 3.30pm on Sunday.

3. Peace Labyrinth Opening, Warrandyte Uniting Church,  Taroona Avenue, 10.15am Sunday April 26.

4. Bloods are back – two wins on the trot and looking menacing in the 4th Division of the EFL. Tomorrow they’re home again, this time up against the visiting Kilsyth. Who’s going to kick a bag this weekend? Dunny? Or Froudy?

5. Nillumbik Artists Open Studios is unmissable from between 11am to 5pm on May 2-3. The studios of over 30 artists will provide an intimate and privileged insight into their works. Inquiries: 1300 660 072.

 

Five For Friday (April 17) in Warrandyte

What’s happening in Warrandyte and surrounds? Here’s five things to stir the senses and your interest …

1. Bloods’ first home game for the season at our beautiful Warrandyte Reserve and the sensational new facilities. Get up in the grand stand, buy a beer and a Bloods burger from Bucky and his team and enjoy a great game as the Red & White do battle with Ferntree Gully all day in the U19s, Reserves and seniors

2. Nillumbik Youth Festival will be a hive of activity on Sunday from 11am to 4pm at Edendale Farm on Gaston Rd in Eltham. Let’s party, kids!

3.  Free plants – Stoney Creek and Yarra Restoration Group ask you to join them at a free BBQ to hear their plans and help them restore the reserve at the Boulevard in North Warrandyte. Saturday (tomorrow) at 4pm. Contact Gill on 0403 051 766

4. Don’t forget your copy of the latest edition of the Warrandyte Diary, it’s a corker, 40 pages packed with fun stuff, news, around the home page, travel stories, sport, food, school, community issues and loads more. Available at various pick up points, mainly Quinton’s IGA.

5. Give Sue a hug at Quinton’s IGA in the coming week and say congratulations on 20 years of great work and for her big friendly smile at our local supermarket. She’s a little ripper!