Building the path less travelled

by DAVID HOGG
9th August 2021

TWO RECENT projects to construct footpaths and kerbing on Research-Warrandyte Road have been completed by Nillumbik Council. Both sections were constructed and fully funded as part of the Getting to School Safely Program, which is known by the Federal Government as the School Infrastructure Road Upgrade project. Council received $1.6 million from the Federal Government for the project, which includes 17 sites across Nillumbik. The less contentious of these works connects Danita Drive to the bottom end of Valias Street, requiring pedestrians to cross the road at the bus stops, and runs for approximately 180 metres costing approximately $90,000. But the one that has caused controversy is a short length on the north side of Research-Warrandyte Road from the traffic lights at Kangaroo Ground Road up to the junction of a service road, a distance of around 90 metres, with associated kerbing and fencing at a cost of approximately $80,000.
Shane Drieberg star ted the discussion on Facebook and described it as a “path to nowhere”. In his post, he stated:
“Is anyone else a little disappointed with the new short stretch of path on the north side of Research- Warrandyte road which only serves the small number of houses in the little lane way it leads to? This was funded from ‘Getting Kids to School Safely’ program but it has missed the mark.”
Many others complained that the money could have been better spent. Reg Byrne, who lives in that little service road posted:
“We now use that path and whilst I don’t disagree that there may be families who need a path more, someone old or young may benefit from what has been done. I hope as a community we can seek support for continued development of services.”
When asked by the Diary for comment on the rationale behind this work, a spokesperson from Nillumbik Council said council sought community feedback on the project in March–April 2018, before advocating for funding.
“We received 144 submissions from 70 respondents. “A number of submissions from the North Warrandyte community sought footpath improvements to access the existing bus stops located on Research- Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road”. It could be argued that a benefit from the works has been to tidy up that side of Research Road following the bridge and traffic lights works, and the rebuilding of part of the culvert in the low section before the lights. Cr Ben Ramcharan had been pushing to have this footpath extended to Somers Road in the short term, and eventually all the way up to the top of the hill, but is struggling to get this up the priority list and to get the necessary funding. He has advised the Diary that Council officers are arranging a site visit at Somers Road in the coming weeks. This will give them a chance to see what the issues are there and will help inform where it sits in Council’s priority list. We asked Council for information on further footpath works in the pipeline and it advised:
“A further project planned for North Warrandyte is the design and construction of a 1.2m wide asphalt footpath along Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, North Warrandyte between Aton St and Blooms Rd. This project is still being designed to minimise native vegetation impacts.”
There has also been community concern for the difficulty that people, especially schoolchildren, have in crossing Research-Warrandyte Road, particularly in the vicinity of Browns Road where the footpath crosses from the north side to the south side at a blind corner — this concern was put to Council.
“There is a safe pedestrian crossing of Research-Warrandyte Road at the intersection of Kangaroo Ground- Warrandyte Road. A pedestrian crossing near Browns Road has not been funded as part of this program and there are no plans or funding at this stage for such a project. As a declared State arterial road, any additional crossing locations on Research-Warrandyte Road require the consent of the Department of Transport.”