News

Warrandyte Bridge closure POSTPONED

URGENT UPDATE

The Diary has just been informed that the schedule weekend closure of the Warrandyte Bridge IS NOT going ahead.

In an email sent to the VicRoads project team and the emergency services, VEC, the engineering team have requested more time to prepare the beams which they were going to installed this weekend:

Hi all

The planned closure of the Warrandyte Bridge this weekend has been postponed.The works and closure of Warrandyte Bridge to install beams will not go ahead as originally planned from 10pm Friday 23rd March – 5am Monday 26th March. We will advise of the rescheduled date for the closure asap.

VEC Civil Engineering, the contractor, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams which VicRoads has granted.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Diary has spoken to VicRoads media who cannot, at this time, confirm if any work is going ahead this weekend.

VicRoads are yet to set a new date for the full bridge closure, but the Diary will keep you informed on any further developments.

Full bridge closure this weekend: how to get around

This weekend (March 25/26) will be the first full closure of the Warrandyte Bridge, which will include night works.

This closure will incur obvious disruption to how people travel through the area.

If the Fire Danger rating is Severe or higher or there is a Total Fire Ban, the full bridge closure will not go ahead.

VicRoads have been working with the CFA and other authorities to ensure that these works do not impact on their incident response.

The CFA have measures in place where they can call on neighbouring CFA and MFB services to maintain service coverage.

Bridge closure

The bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic between 10pm Friday March 23 to 5am Monday March 26.

The bridge will remain accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, under direction from on-site traffic management.

Traffic diversions

Both private and public transport will be affected by these works.

Car

VicRoads have provided a map illustrating the traffic detours.

Bus

During the bridge closure, PTV bus services 578 and 579 (Warrandyte Reserve to Eltham Station) WILL NOT CROSS the Warrandyte Bridge.

A temporary bus stop will be established on the north side of the bridge where 578/579 passengers can get on/off the bus and use the 364/906 bus connections on the south side of the river to continue their journey.

The Warrandyte Diary will stay across this weekend’s closure and update readers on any changes.

Saturday’s Festival program cancelled

Due to the SEVERE Fire Danger rating and a Total Fire Ban in place, the SATURDAY program for the Warrandyte Festival has been cancelled.

The Warrandyte Festival Committee have released the following statement.

It is with regret that the Warrandyte Festival Committee has decided, in accordance with our Cancellation Policy, to cancel all festival activities and performances for Saturday 17th March.

This decision was made in consultation with the CFA, Victoria Police, the SES and Manningham Council.

Prior to this decision, the Victorian Education Department had already issued a directive prohibiting local government schools from participating on the Saturday.

Our decision is not taken lightly, but community safety is our priority.

All Friday evening and Sunday activities and performances will proceed as per the published programme.

Thank you for your understanding, and please stay safe.

The Warrandyte Diary is across all Warrandyte Festival updates and will post here and on our Facebook page if there are any further changes to this plan.

Information on the current and Fire Danger ratings and when and where Total Fire Bans are in place can be found here.

More power problems plague Warrandyte

ELECTRICITY consumers in Warrandyte and North Warrandyte have experienced a number of planned and unplanned power outages in the last three months with further planned outages still to come.

Urgent work on critical pole

A spokesman from AusNet Services spokesman Hugo Armstrong has advised the Diary that a wooden power pole in the RSL grounds to the southwest of the bridge roundabout is riddled with termites and has to be replaced as a matter of urgency.

This pole carries 22kV High Voltage (HV) 3-wire cables east and west along Yarra Street and also joins the newly-installed bundled HV electrical cable which spans the river and carries power up Kangaroo Ground Road and to adjoining residential properties.

The work has been scheduled during the day on Tuesday March 20 and a power outage will affect the approximately 500 residents and businesses who were also without power on January 19 and 20 for the bridge works.

This work will be done by AusNet subcontractors.

AusNet advise that they will do their best to keep power on for the businesses in Yarra Street served by this cable, either by means of generators or by reconfiguration.

This job will be particularly tricky as the pole is in a difficult place for access, and while it is intended to keep Yarra Street open there will be complex traffic management issues and traffic delays are expected on March 20.

Further work in relation to bridge widening

To complicate matters further, as a completely separate issue the bridge contractors need further work to be done on the HV cable crossing the river and associated poles.

As a result, the same consumers will have two further daytime planned outages.

That work will be done by licensed electrical subcontractors to VicRoads.

AusNet are insisting that this latter work not be done in March but be spaced out to give long-suffering consumers some breathing space.

All affected customers will be notified in advance of these planned outages.

AusNet have asked the Diary to convey their sincere apologies to the affected customers and emphasise that they are well aware of the inconvenience caused and are doing their very best to minimise disruptions.

Later work

We announced in the May 2017 issue that the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program was completed and this had replaced 3-wire HV powerlines in North Warrandyte areas with bundled cable to reduce bushfire risks.

However, this work did not extend to replacing existing old bundled cable such as that spanning the river.

The works on January 19 and 20 replaced the old bundled cable across the river for about 5 poles up to Castle Road, but we believe that the old cable continues on past that point.

We have come across a statement from AusNet regarding the North Warrandyte power supply: “AusNet Services will replace the remaining sections of HV aerial bundled cable along this line in the coming months.

“No dates have been set as yet, but we will advise affected residents well in advance.”

Recent outages

AusNet Services released a bulletin dated January 18 entitled “Update on North Warrandyte Power Supply” which was sent by text message to all those North Warrandyte residents who had experienced recent power outages and who had a mobile phone number notified to their electricity retailer.

The bulletin lists the causes of unplanned power problems in the previous six weeks including:

  • On December 9, a tree brought down overhead powerlines, which caused an extended fault and required tree clearers, traffic control and construction crews to rectify.
  • On January 6, a 40 degree, extreme fire danger day, there was a burnt out HV overhead cable fault near the bridge, which caused a ‘flashover’ along the overhead wire.
  • On January 11, a possum came into contact with an HV switch on Bradleys Lane, causing an outage, and as a result, the switch configuration has now been modified to prevent further possum incidents.

Additionally, on January 19 and 20 an overnight scheduled outage enabled replacement and rerouting of the HV cable across the river.

The bulletin concludes: “We are optimistic that both the reliability and safety of this part of the community have been enhanced, and you will experience better reliability in the future.”

On March 7, another possum incident caused further unplanned outages.

Mr Armstrong told the Diary “Following the possum incident on January 11 we had hoped that the modifications to the switchgear would prevent further similar incidents.

“Unfortunately, the possums had other ideas and we are now researching further solutions in attempt to minimise possum problems”.

One resident in Aton Street claims to have had a power outage every day between January 4 and 19 and has made a formal complaint to the Ombudsman.

Unplanned outages and compensation

One of the benefits of the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program completed last year was touted as being that it would improve reliability, a claim which residents are continuing to doubt.

Community frustration is growing at the continuing number of unplanned “recloser trips” being experienced almost on a weekly basis.

The recloser trip is a safety mechanism that cuts power to a localised area when there is an overload or abnormality (such as caused by possum activity) and then attempts to restore power a few seconds later.

This generally causes desktop computers and modems to reboot and causes clocks on microwaves or ovens to flash until reset.

AusNet Services are obliged to comply with a complex list of Guaranteed Service Levels (GSL) which provide for compensation if unplanned outages exceed certain targets in any calendar year.

There is no inclusion of planned outages in the GSL targets, that is those interruptions which have been notified to the consumer in advance, nor any provision for compensation for same, although sometimes ex-gratia payments are made.

The compensation starts at $30 if there are more than 24 momentary interruptions in a year, and $40 for more than 36 momentary interruptions.

Unfortunately, AusNet Services do not provide online access to the service interruption records for any property, and although details can be requested it takes a few days for a response.

The compliance with GSL targets for each residence is evaluated in February each year, and compensation payments where due are advised to the customer’s retailer in March and a credit allowed on the next bill.

However, the point at which the compensation starts is set so high that payments are — relatively speaking — rarely made, and the compensation of $30 or $40 feels like a drop in the ocean when compared with the $400+ fee per year that consumers are being charged for “service to property” before they have even started to consume any electricity.

Thousands turn out to defend Green Wedge

OVER THREE thousand people took to the streets of Eltham in a recent rally to protest the plans for Nillumbik Council to sell 17 parcels of public land.

The Council claims a lack of funding from State government for their plans to extend the Diamond Valley Trail and upgrade other sporting facilities as the reason why they have turned to the sell-off to get their infrastructure projects delivered.

But the community aren’t buying it.

Rally organiser Nerida Kirov from Save Community Spaces told the Diary that this flies in the face of the platform that Mayor Peter Clarke was elected on.

“This Council was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility, they chose not to raise rates last year, despite the fact they knew costs would continue to increase”.

She says now Council are crying poor.

“The truth is that the rate of council debt is not high compared to other councils,” Ms Kirov said.

In an open letter to Council, State Member for Eltham Vicky Ward said that government have given Nillumbik Council $22 million dollars in the last few years for public infrastructure projects.

Ms Ward refutes claims that the government has not provided funding for the proposed works.

“The Andrews Labor Government has provided $1.2m for Stage 1 of the trail, an underpass for the rail line at Diamond Creek.

“This is in addition to $2.8 million for the Diamond Creek netball courts, $2.5m for the Diamond Valley Sports and Fitness Centre, $800,000 for Eltham Central Clubrooms and $416,650 for Marngrook Oval.”

Ms Ward called on Council to seek alternative sources of funding, such as from the Federal Government, rather than sell off the urban reserves.

The protesters are at a loss to understand the Council’s urgency to complete these projects.

“We don’t understand the rush to get this all done at once,” said Ms Kirov.

“The land that they want to sell is designated public land in the most built up part of the Shire, land that developers were required to set aside for public use.

“We are not against the walking trail at some stage, but not at the expense of public space,” Ms Kirov told the Diary.