AFTER almost a year of disruption, and occasional chaos, the bridgeworks are now heading towards completion.
Night works and single lane closures, scheduled for December 1 to 4, to allow the construction team to seal the bridge surface, complete the lane markings and remove the remaining barriers were postposed due to bad weather and have not yet been rescheduled.
A further night of single-lane working on December 8 installed street lighting.
The work is looking very eye-pleasing, with colourful bollards and local stone cairns — sensitively designed echoes of stone end walls — at each of the abutments to the bridge.
Fitting of the green railings each side of the roadway and removal of most of the scaffolding from under the bridge was recently completed.
The further remedial work on the high voltage power cable over the Yarra associated with the bridgework was finally completed in the early hours of Sunday December 9 with a power outage affecting 446 residents.
Further works to be completed include finishing new shared use paths, finalising asphalting and line marking on the bridge, removing all remaining temporary barriers, installing the remaining street lighting, providing power and communications to the traffic lights, further strengthening works underneath the bridge, reinstatement of the Queen of the Shire and landscaping works.
The new bus stop works are being delivered by VicRoads on behalf of Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to extend the bus stop, allowing room for articulated buses on the road.
Traffic light troubles
The traffic lights at the corner of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road became operational on November 20.
Fatima Mohamed, VicRoads Director Metropolitan Assets, tells us “These new traffic lights have improved traffic flow and boosted safety at the intersection of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and we appreciate the community’s patience during these important works.”
Although the traffic lights have been operational since November 20 there has been no power or communications laid on to the site, and the traffic lights are running off a generator.
Digital road rage
Last month, the community and road users continued to vent their frustrations on social media, this time directed at the newly activated traffic lights.
Complaints on social media indicated there was too much priority to traffic on Research Road and motorists stuck in traffic on Kangaroo Ground Road were falling back on old habits and speeding along the Blooms Road rat-run.
But it is the evening traffic that caused the most complaints, with the lights stopping northbound traffic across the bridge, and bridge traffic from Ringwood locking out traffic from the village.
Residents and commuters who have taken their complaints directly to VicRoads have told the Diary they are being advised “VicRoads is currently liaising with Telstra to get the permanent network connection installed which will allow real time adjustment of the signals and we anticipate that there will be tweaks to the signal timings based on traffic volumes once they are fully operational.”
Some adjustment must already be taking place as there has been a substantial improvement in traffic flow during the last week.
Despite criticism of the peak hour queues though Warrandyte, it must be remembered that the primary objective of the upgrade is in relation to bushfire evacuation, and to that extent the recent Bushfire Insurance Forum (see Page 7) was told that the emergency services have welcomed the works and believe that the bridge upgrade has greatly improved the situation in an emergency.
“Whilst the emergency services believe that the bridge upgrade has improved the situation, it is not a panacea and there will still be huge problems on the roads if an evacuation is required.”
The CFA message has always been to leave early and even with two southbound lanes, this message is more important than ever.