An update and Call for Action
A group of outraged Eltham residents are continuing their campaign to get Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) to pause construction work on the proposed “upgrade of the Fitzsimons Lane roundabout”.
The approaches to this roundabout are the northern gateway to the areas bushland landscape character, which they are calling on to be conserved.
The objectors to the project say the scale of this upgrade is totally unnecessary.
Diary readers will have read about project workers cutting down and chipping all trees on the roundabouts on February 15, 2021, during a COVID lockdown.
Eltham locals Vicky Shukuroglou and Nicole Johnstone became so disturbed at the pattern of refusal of access to information and poor community consultation they decided to call a meeting at the Eltham Golf Club on March 31.
They said the community was being systematically manipulated by MRPV through the implementation of a mis-directed corporate stakeholder management strategy and wished to canvas and respond to these concerns.
The March issue of the Diary reported about the claims of deficit in consultation, the overkill scale of the design, inaccuracies in the traffic modelling figures and the dismissive response to an expertly prepared alternative, lower impact design submitted by Eltham Community Action Group.
Protest Action continues
Those attending the March meeeting were treated to presentations by three engineering experts on the alternative plan and on traffic modelling together with a paper on the legal issues surrounding the process and interaction with MRPV.
Speakers told the meeting “this is not a normal road upgrade”, as its inclusion within the scope of the greater North East Link Project means that the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade falls within the grand scale thinking, funding and legal Great Wall boundary of the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009.
The Fitzsimons Lane Bridge is the next upstream Yarra River crossing to the Bansksia Street Bridge and therefore to the North East Link, hence why they consider Fitzsimons Lane should be “fixed” too.
In a paper, Interpreting the Fitzsimons Lane Traffic Forecasts, presented to the March meeting, Civil Engineer Denis Johnston contends the MRPV traffic forecasts do not justify the upgrade.
This paper is available on the website below.
The report discusses:
- the MRPV assumed a traffic volume growth rate of more than three times the average growth rate forecast in the NE Link modelling.
- MRPV officers said they did not account for the traffic relief of the NE Link opening in 2027 – when asked why, officers said ‘the business case people said not to’.
- MRPV did not account for the reduction in traffic flows on Fitzsimons Lane that will occur when the NE Link opens in 2027 (approximately 25 per cent in peak periods according to the NE Link modelling).
Figure 1 from the paper demonstrates this upgrade cannot be justified on traffic volume grounds.
After 2027 the reduced traffic flows can be handled efficiently by the existing roundabout.
The alternative design which is kinder to the environment, does not include a retaining wall up to five metres in height, is safer for cyclists would be a cheaper and better solution.
The wrap up message from the meeting was to renew community protests to call for better conversations and transparent governance, as the refusal by authorities and Government to seriously listen to the community justifies a “Call for a Pause”.
A revamped website now provides further details and contact list for protest submissions: www.elthamroundabout.wixsite.com/my-site
Meanwhile MRPV has released a series of Fact Sheets outlining different aspects of the project.
A Fact Sheet on the design process has outlined the recent changes they have made to the project design during the course of 2021.
“Design refinements that have further reduced impacts to trees include:
• minimising the works and footprint of the intersections where possible
• project-wide design changes to avoid impacting underground services
• realignment of the Porter Street eastern section (saving over 10 trees including two river red gums and four sugar gums)
• maintaining the kerb line and minimising earthworks on the eastern side of Fitzsimons Lane at the main road intersection
• reduced retaining wall footprint at the Main/Fitzsimons intersection.”
They have also released pamphlets on Environmental Impact, Dust, Noise, and Business Support during construction.
The documents can be found at roadprojects.vic.gov.au/projects/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade/factsheets