Tag Archives: MRPV

Works Notice: North East Link – Bulleen Road

Work is in full swing on Bulleen Road from this weekend to shift lanes west and create the space needed to build the new North East Link tunnel entrance.
From 8pm tonight, Friday, November 24, until 7pm, Tuesday, December 5, Bulleen Road will be closed in each direction between Thompsons Road and Trinity Grammar as crews work around the clock to build a new section of Bulleen Road.
For the next 11 days, motorists are being urged to plan ahead for up to 30 minutes’ extra travel time at peak times — and should seek alternative routes while crews carry out important work to build the new section of Bulleen Road.
If you’re driving between the Eastern Freeway and Manningham Road, allow extra travel time for the detour via Manningham and Thompsons roads.
Access to all homes, businesses, the Veneto Club, local schools and sporting grounds will remain open during this time, with traffic management in place on either side of the full closure.
Closing the road fully now will allow crews to get this important work done and allow the road to remain open when tunnelling works commence next year, reducing disruptions.
When the road re-opens in early December, traffic will use the new lanes on Bulleen Road.
And in good news for locals, Bulleen Road will be open in time for Veneto Club’s 50th birthday celebrations next month.

Eltham Gateway sculpture revealed

A BOLD SCULPTURE with intricate detailing that plays with line, light and shadow has been announced as the public artwork to feature in the revitalised Eltham Gateway.
The sculpture has been created by Nillumbik artist Maureen Faye-Chauhan and celebrates the Shire’s unique bushland and the Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people.
Wurundjeri Elders have chosen the title for the sculpture, Gunga winhanga warr bundha ba winhanga warr djurring in traditional Woi Wurrung language, meaning “Take what you need and not what you greed”.
The artwork announcement comes as landscaping works started this week on the Eltham Gateway project, which will see both sides of Main Road rehabilitated and landscaped with significant plantings of native vegetation.
The project is a collaboration between Council, Major Road Projects Victoria, Eltham MP Vicki Ward, and community group The Southern Gateway Renewal Group. Made of weathering steel and measuring more than 2 metres tall and 5 metres wide, the sculpture will be located north of Main Road between the flower stand and the Diamond Creek Bridge.
Maureen said she is passionate about the bush.

“Walking through the bush, it changes every day, you see the different forms of branches and rocks.
“It’s the exploration of form that has formed the basis of the artwork.
“The strongest idea that resonated with me for this project was working around the beautiful manna gums on site, exploring the significance of the trees for the Wurundjeri people,” she said.

The multi-dimensional twisted structure blends the shapes of the fallen twisted boughs of the manna gums, with that of a scarred tree form — created when First Nations people removed the bark for canoes, shields and other items.

“These acts did not destroy the tree, or the environment around it.
“The Wurundjeri idea that you take what you need and not what you greed is something we can all learn from,” Maureen says.

The artwork was realised through digital 3D modelling and will be made of 52 steel facets with linear cutouts allowing for a delicate play of light and shadow.
It is being fabricated at Alustain in Campbellfield, owned by another Nillumbik local, Brett Morrison. Once in place, the artwork will be illuminated at night with the opportunity to change colours for significant events.
Mayor Ben Ramcharan says the sculpture will become a contemporary landmark for the gateway to Eltham and the Green Wedge Shire.

“This unique piece really brings to life a key entrance to our Shire — public art that is easily accessible to our community is so important,” Cr Ramcharan says.
“The sculpture will provide us an opportunity to reflect on the ancient history of this land and the Traditional Owners as well as the environment that so many of us in Nillumbik hold so dear.”

Eltham MP Vicki Ward says, “The wonderful, organic, inclusive feel of this sculpture will really resonate with locals, and offers a real sense of arrival, of coming home, of being welcomed to Eltham.”
Maureen first began working with contemporary jewellery, then specialising in small sculptural forms.
This will be her biggest work yet.
Maureen’s works are in The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia, and have been included in exhibitions around the world.
ID Landscaping, formerly known as Indigenous Design Landscaping, has been engaged to complete the landscaping works.
Work has started on clearing weeds, the installation of fencing along the creek, and preparing the ground for pathways and boardwalks.
For project updates visit Nillumbik Council’s website: nillumbik.vic.gov.au/eltham-gateway.

Another blitz for Fitzsimons Lane project

AS THE FITZSIMONS Lane project begins another major phase, motorists are warned that major disruptions will be occurring as a section of Porter Street is closed for around six weeks.
Major Road Projects Victoria’s Project Director Dipal Sorathia said creating a more reliable Porter Street junction is one of the biggest priorities for the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade team.
New traffic lights will be installed at a Porter Street intersection in Templestowe to deliver a safer and more efficient crossing for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
Removing the Fitzsimons Lane/Porter Street roundabout will ensure better traffic flow for all road users and will help clear a significant bottleneck and improve safety.
Construction crews will work around-the-clock for seven weeks, from 6pm Tuesday, April 26 to 5pm Sunday, June 12, to remove the roundabout and install traffic lights, with associated kerb and channel works, drainage works, build footpaths, earthworks, pavement replacement, line-marking and lighting.
“We thank locals for their patience as we get on with this upgrade and complete about six months’ worth of work over the next seven weeks,” said Mr Sorathia.
He said this intersection is one of the busiest in Templestowe.
“As traffic volumes return to pre-pandemic levels, congestion during the morning and afternoon peaks regularly leads to queuing — causing delays, frustration and distress.”
Mr Sorathia said replacing the Porter Street roundabout with traffic lights will reduce congestion for the more than 60,000 vehicles which use Fitzsimons Lane every day and make the community safer.
Two lanes of traffic will remain open on Williamsons Road/Fitzsimons Lane in both directions when works kick off on Tuesday, April 26.
Temporary traffic lights will guide north-south motorists through the intersection.
During this first phase of these works through to Saturday, May 14 — the eastern leg of the Porter Street roundabout will be closed, meaning traffic will need to detour via Foote Street/Reynolds Road, Blackburn Road and Warrandyte Road.
Access to nearby businesses, Templestowe Reserve and BlueCross Silverwood will be maintained.
Maps describing the detour in place can be found below:
Click on maps below slideshow for large-scale version

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A second stage of works will be carried out over the remainder of May and into June, with one lane to re-open for those travelling from Eltham turning left into the eastern leg of Porter Street towards Warrandyte.
With restrictions on traffic movements throughout the entirety of the major works period, motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journey.
Delays of approximately 20-minutes are expected along detour routes although access through the closed road will be maintained for emergency vehicles and public transport.
Pedestrian and cyclist access has been maintained on select shared paths however, some verge areas are fenced off to ensure the safety of road workers.
A pedestrian detour is in place through Templestowe Reserve.
The temporary roundabout will be removed, and the upgraded intersection will be open by early June.
Finishing works — including asphalting, line- marking and signage works — will continue throughout 2022.
The upgrade will also improve the reliability of public transport with the introduction of bus prioritisation signalling.
Once traffic lights are installed at Porter Street, the project team will then turn their attention to major construction to upgrade the Foote Street intersection in Templestowe.
For more information or to sign up for updates, visit roadprojects.vic.gov.au/fitzsimons.
For up-to-date travel information visit:
ptv.vic.gov.au and vicroads.vic.gov.au.

Disruptions continue for Fitzsimons Lane upgrade

MAJOR ROADS Projects Victoria (MRPV) continues the works on the Fitzsimons Lane upgrade.
CONSTRUCTION teams are about to embark on another roadworks blitz, completing six months of work in seven weeks.
They will be transforming the Fitzsimons Lane/Porter Street roundabout into an traffic light-controlled intersection.
Residents are advised that the Porter Street/Fitzsimons Lane intersection on the eastern (Warrandyte/Donvale)
side of the road will be closed from April 26 for the seven-week period, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
From April 26, until May 14, there will be no access to eastern end of Porter Street.
Traffic Diversions will be in place, taking diverted traffic along Williamsons Road, Foote Street, Blackburn Road, and Warrandyte
Road.
Major Roads are advising there may be delays of up to 20 minutes for road users in this area during works.
There will also be no access to Hawtin Street from Porter Street; this street will be local access only.
Entry to Water Tunnel Car Wash, MarketPlace Fresh, Templestowe Reserve and BlueCross Silverwood will be from the Warrandyte side of the road closure.
Local bus route 905 is also likely to be affected by these works, the Diary and M&N Bulletin will have additional information about how this service is impacted closer to the time.

Lane closures
Lane closures have been in effect from Sunday, March 6, as works are undertaken to complete drainage works and build up the road along Williamsons Road and Fitzsimons Lane between Atkinson Street and Westerfolds Park, and on Porter Street — west of the roundabout if you are driving towards Templestowe Village.
During this time, there are lane closures and speed limits are reduced to 40km/h on Porter Street.
Construction crews will be in place Monday to Friday from 6am to 5pm, and Saturday to Sunday from 7am to 5pm.

Nightworks
There will also be some nights works from Sunday to Friday, between 6pm and 5am each night.
Traffic management will be in place to guide road users through the area. Access to businesses and residences will be maintained during these works.
Crews will be relocating powerlines underground.
The installation of new drainage and construction of pavement will continue in the centre medians of
Williamsons Road, either side of the Foote Street intersection.
As crews work to relocate overhead powerlines underground, there will be boring and trenching on Foote Street, west of the intersection.
One end of Glendale Avenue will be closed, with lane closures continuing across the Foote Street intersection.
There will also be trench and bore works around the southwest corner of Williamsons Road and Foote Street.

Main Road completion works
Following on from its major construction campaign, crews will be tidying up around the Main Road/ Fitzsimons Lane intersection and finishing off work on medians and the Fitzsimons Lane retaining wall.
There will be minor traffic management in place for the ongoing safety of drivers and workers.

Porter Street road surfacing
Heading into the final stage of works to upgrade the Porter Street roundabout to traffic lights, crews will continue to prepare the road surface for the signalised intersection.
Over the next three months, lane closures and changed traffic conditions will continue on all legs of the intersection as the new pavement is built and new drainage is installed throughout the area.
MRPV said it will notify directly impacted residents regarding nightworks.

Expect delays around Fitzsimons Lane construction blitz

**UPDATE 21/01/2022
Stage 1 works have now finished as part of the blitz, finishing five days ahead of schedule.

As of the morning of January 21, traffic can once again travel northbound from Templestowe to Eltham on Fitzsimons Lane with detours in place via Bolton Street for traffic travelling towards Eltham from Lower Plenty.
MRPV maintain Stage 2 works will finish on February 13, as per the December announcement.
For further details, read the story below.

WORKS ON THE Major Roads Project along Fitzsimons Lane are picking up during the school holidays, with plans for around-the-clock construction at the Main Road intersection from January 4 until February 13, 2022.
A statement from Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) said upgrades to key intersections in Eltham and Templestowe are set to improve safety and traffic flow for the 60,000 people who drive through the area every day.
Continuous day and night works
From Tuesday, January 4 until February 13, 2022, construction will be occurring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to complete six months of work in six weeks and upgrade the Main Road roundabout to traffic lights.
Major construction will occur during the school holidays while traffic volumes are reduced; however, intersection closures will result in significant delays throughout the area.
Works will include:

  • installation of new drainage and new pavement,
  • installation and placement of new kerb,
  • underground services and foundation installation for the new traffic signals and lighting,
  • installation of traffic signals and lighting, and
  • completion of new sections of footpaths and driveways for the new intersection.

MRPV said it would continue to work closely with residents, businesses and drivers to undertake these works safely and efficiently.
However, during major construction, there will be lengthy disruptions, detours, and lane closures, and significant delays when travelling through the area
Residents will be impacted by noise from equipment and machinery such as generators, excavators, trucks, vibrations, dust, and light from the work area.
Speeds will be reduced to 40km/h and traffic management will be in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The 901 buses will continue uninterrupted, and 902 buses will be given priority travel through the work area during major construction works, so the route is also unchanged.
The 513 will be detoured via Bridge and Bolton streets.
MRPV said it was working closely with emergency services to ensure that emergency access is maintained throughout this period.

Traffic changes
The construction impacts and planned traffic management will be broken into two stages.

Stage 1
From January 4, 2022, there will be significant delays throughout the area.
Where possible, MRPV recommends drivers seek alternative routes, avoiding the intersection during peak-hours and allowing an extra 30 minutes travel time.
One lane will remain open through the Main Road intersection for those heading south towards the city via Fitzsimons Lane from Eltham.
If you are coming from the city heading north towards Eltham or travelling between Lower Plenty and Eltham, a temporary detour via Bolton Street and Bridge Street will be in place.

Stage 2
The intersection will be reopened from January 26, 2022, to allow traffic movement towards Eltham from the city via Fitzsimons Lane.
Travel delays of up to 15 minutes are expected during this time, and detours will still be in place via Bolton Street for those travelling between Lower Plenty and Eltham.
Throughout this period, Souter Street and Jayson Avenue will be closed.
While the road is closed, Souter Street will have a temporary detour via Falkiner Street.
Jayson Avenue will be detoured via Homestead Road to Fitzsimons Lane.

Managing impacts
MRPV stated it would monitor noise, vibration and dust levels at all times to ensure these impacts are kept to a minimum.
If you have any noise concerns, please contact MRPV on 1800 105 105.

For more information, visit bigbuild.vic.gov.au/projects/mrpv/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade/roads/main-road

Fitzsimons Lane roundabout

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:

  1. the MRPV assumed a traffic volume growth rate of more than three times the average growth rate forecast in the NE Link modelling.
  2. 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’.
  3. 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.

Further Action

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

Fact Sheets

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

Price of progress

Eltham residents have come out of lockdown to discover that hundreds of trees that graced the Eltham Gateway roundabout have been removed.
Under cover of COVID, Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) moved in on February 15 to clearfell the intersection of Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane, and then removed the large Lemon Scented Gums from the Porter Street intersection on February 16.
Resident Vicky Shukuroglou described the scene as residents who had left their home for the four reasons and came across the Main Road demolition site.

“People started pulling over and parking their cars and were in shock, complete shock,” she said.

Consultation deficit

Community groups are outraged that there had not been extensive community consultation around the project, with many residents unaware of the impending works until Eltham Community Action Group placed red ribbons around the doomed trees in early 2020.
MRPV said they had 300 responses to their community consultation, but admitted to ECAG that less than 100 of them had come from Eltham residents.
In contrast ECAG had received over 3,000 signatures from locals on its petition.
ECAG have spent around two years negotiating with MRPV to compromise on the project to retain the treed gateway intersection.
Secretary of ECAG, Sue Dyet, said the group had first been made aware of the plans when they were told by local member Vicky Ward some months after the plans were put out for consultation.

“She showed us some plans and we went away looking at them and the enormity of the situation sunk in.”

The group managed to hold some meetings with MRPV but, Ms Dyet said the group feel they have been “managed”.

“They listened to us, they gave us time, but when we asked particular questions, and asked for information it was not always forthcoming,” she said.

Nillumbik Council passed a resolution in December 2020 to request MRPV conduct further community consultation, but this did not occur.
Ms Shukuroglou had organised a protest rally for February 13, which had to be cancelled due to the COVID lockdown.
However, the lockdown did not deter the construction workers who brought out the chainsaws, which was seen as a massive slap in the face to the community.

“Even it had been planned for six months, it was in bad taste,” said Ms Dyet.

Major Road Projects Victoria Program Director Dipal Sorathian defended the works occurring during lockdown.

“This project is essential work, like many other projects that have commenced and continued through various stages of COVID-19 restrictions over the past year,” he said.

Overkill

The project will see the intersection widened substantially, with eight lanes (four lanes each way) on the Main Road, eight lanes on Lower Plenty Road and eleven lanes in total on Fitzsimons Lane.
Although Mayor of Nillumbik, Peter Perkins notes that this was reduced from the original plans.

“Council has advocated on behalf of the community since the announcement of this project.
“These efforts have helped to influence MRPV to revise its design, including the reduction of the proposed intersection from 11 to eight lanes, saving more than 200 trees along the corridor.
“Fitzsimons Lane is a key gateway to the Shire and is of significant aesthetic, environmental and economic value to the community.
“Council supports the government’s efforts to minimise traffic congestion while at all times seeking to ensure that the community’s voice is heard and appropriately acted upon,” said Cr Perkins.

Ms Shukuroglou said that with the massive changes in the way people are working and moving around the city the plan should have been reconsidered.
She said the project also does not take the road use changes projected by the North East Link.

“MRPV made their case by using figures that were not really all that accurate, because their traffic modelling and numbers were based on 2027, and then 2028 is estimated for the NEL opening, which suggests traffic will drop by quite a large percentage.
“Then we also need to contemplate there is also a current ban on immigration and the trend of working from home, and that it most likely to be the thing that remains.
“Once the pandemic is abated, people will start getting back on the trains and will be working from home — these things have not been taken into account,” she said.

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Photos: VICKY SHUKUROGLOU

Alternatives ignored

Ms Shukuroglou  went on to say: “We realised as a bunch of volunteers on community planning issues we needed to get hold of some people who knew more about this game than we did.

“So we subsequently got three experts in the field, one a retired VicRoads person, one transport manager from AECOM in London, a huge international firm, and more recently someone who is an expert on roundabouts.

The group had their experts draw up alternative plans in attempt to reduce the footprint of the works and to retain the roundabout, and therefore the trees, but despite being told their plans were as affective as the official plans they would not be considered.
Mr Sorathia told WD Bulletin as part of the development process, “a number of designs options were investigated”, and he said it was found that upgrading to a signalised intersection was the best option to make the road safer and less congested.

“Compared to signals, a roundabout solution will be less safe, increase congestion and travel times, and will not alleviate the traffic queues,” he said.

Objectors to the roadworks were resigned to the fact that the project would go ahead no matter what their objections, but Ms Dyet said she felt that MRPV played lip-service to community consultation.

“I would say that they feel that they ticked all the boxes,” she said.

Enough is enough

Ms Shukuroglou said MRPV has been asking the wrong questions.

“They went in and said, ‘well there is a traffic problem how are we going to solve the traffic problem’.
“As opposed to ‘there is a traffic problem, how can we solve this while respecting the community, the area, and all the values that are within this place’,” she said.

She said she wants to see a dynamic change in how major projects such as this are managed.

“It seems to us very clearly, is the greatest needs of society, which is social and environmental health, which are not just boxes to be ticked and they ought to underpin all decisions, and infrastructure ought to serve purposes in response to these things,” said Ms Shukologlou.
“It starts creeping inwards, it is the thin edge of the wedge, this is where we can slowly chip away and say ‘now that road is there, we are going to have to do this duplication, we are going to have to add extra roads’.
“At what point do we say, ‘actually, enough is enough’?”

She said the community has learnt from this “absolutely horrendous” process and the “devastating” outcome.

“The one thing we need to do is maintain hope for what we can achieve for anything that is happening in the future.
“There are a lot of demoralised, tired people, there are people who feel like they have there is no point in attempting to have a go.
“But that, in all sorts of ways, the system is working in that way.
“It would be much easier if we all sat down and said nothing, there would be a lot less hiccups, work could be done a lot more efficiently.
“But we are not just going to sit down and accept this — we will organise the protest again to say, this must change, this is not an appropriate example of community consultation.
“This is not a good example of how things must be.”

Replanting plan

“We have heard from the local community that they appreciate the natural environment, which is why we are planting more trees than we remove on the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade,” said Mr Sorathian.

Local member Vicky Ward has announced that 5,000 trees will be planted around Eltham to offset the trees that have been removed.
In a statement, she said approximately six new trees will be planted for every tree removed as part of the project.
This calculation makes the tally of trees lost at approximately 830.

“This program will leave an important legacy that all participants and the wider community will enjoy for years to come,” she said.

Ms Ward’s announcement stated local secondary school students will also be involved in a propagating project to create a new supply of native plants and trees, which will be planted and grown in the local area.
However, Ms Shoukoglou said even 5,000 trees, will not replace what has been lost.

“One of the main issues is there are very few hollow bearing trees left, and it is a serious problem.
“So planting a one-year-old, or five-year-old tree is nothing like it.
“Even if you have 5,000 of them, it is nothing like one mature tree that has lived for 50, 60, 100, 200 years.
“You are never going to regain that,” she said.

Cr Perkins said Council and the community lament the recent destruction of so many trees at this key gateway.

“We look forward to the completion of the project when the benefits will be realised and landscaping completed,” he said.

Display of grief

On Saturday, 20 February, locals gathered for a demonstration at the intersection, gathering in small groups to place “letters of love and loss”.
Ms Shukuroglou told WD Bulletin due to COVID restrictions the community was unable to protest in the traditional sense.
To ensure the event was conducted safely the organisers opted for a multi-site staged gathering over the course of the day.

“It was an independent demonstration, a COVID-safe solution, and an opportunity for people to express their grief, which is immense and rippling through the community”.

She said people came on their own mournful walk, delivered letters, had conversations, and shared their feelings of dismay, anxiety, shock.

“People’s worlds have been rocked — how can that be allowed in our system which is touted as fair?
“Others said their anxiety is through the roof… so much more,” she said.

What now for the future?

Protest organisers are asking concerned citizens to visit their website, to send messages, and keep updated on future actions.
elthamroundabout.wixsite.com/my-site
The WD Bulletin and Warrandyte Diary will continue to follow this developing story.

 

Construction to commence on Fitzsimons Lane intersections

DESPITE COMMUNITY objection, work is about to commence on redevelopment of the “Eltham Gateway”, the intersection of Fitzsimons Lane with Main Road in Eltham and Porter Street in Templestowe.
Contractors BMD Construction are setting up to begin construction on the Fitzsimons Lane Major Roads project.
The project will upgrade key intersections along Fitzsimons Lane to reduce congestion, improve safety and provide better walking and cycling connections for the 60,000 people who use it every day.
A statement from Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) said that the roundabouts cause delays, which can create risks for all road users.

“People travelling along Fitzsimons Lane will benefit from better and safer journeys travelling through these upgraded intersections.”

Local activists, Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) have been vocal in their objection to the project.
The group has tied red ribbons around each of the trees earmarked for destruction.
They presented the State Government with a 2,900-signature petition against the project, calling the works an unnecessary overkill, which will see “hundreds” of trees removed in the process.

“A massive, signalised intersection (the three roads having 10, 8 and 8 lanes at the lights) will form an area of bitumen and concrete roughly the size of the MCG oval and destroy forever our iconic entrance to the Green Wedge Shire,” they said in a statement.

ECAG said they commissioned and presented their own alternative design that would keep the roundabout and many of the trees, but despite agreeing it was as effective as the official designs, MRPV rejected the compromise.
The statement from MRPV said following community consultation last year it removed two traffic lanes from the Eltham approach.

“We have also removed the bus priority lanes from all approaches to reduce the footprint of the Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane intersection.
“This change has reduced the number of trees that will be impacted, whilst ensuring the community and road users will still benefit from reduced congestion and improved safety.”

A construction worker who is working on the project told the WD Bulletin that he is concerned that lack of communications with the public by MRPV will see construction workers potentially come into conflict with protesters when tree removal begins.
ECAG is urging anyone with concerns about the project to visit elthamaction.org.au and write to their local member.
More information about the project plans from MRPV can be found at roadprojects.vic.gov.au/projects/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade

Eltham Gateway trees remain under threat

THE CLASH between utilitarian necessity, and community and environmental amenity is all too familiar to many residents of Warrandyte and surrounds.

The latest battleground is the Eltham Fitzsimons Lane Roundabout at the Eltham Gateway.

Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) is planning to remove the roundabout and replace it with a multilane, traffic-lighted intersection, as part of its $2.2 billion Northern Roads Upgrade project.

Planned works also include the removal of the roundabout at Porter Street in Templestowe and the redesign of the Foote Street intersection.

The work at the Eltham Gateway to replace the roundabout with an intersection will involve the removal of hundreds of trees which will significantly change the look of the area, threatening what many see as the visual gateway into Nillumbik’s Green Wedge, as well as damaging the character of the area and disrupting community amenity for residents.

Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) has been campaigning for an alternative design which will help ease traffic flow without damaging the amenity and character of the area.

“People see those trees and it makes them feel like they have come home”, said Carlota Quinlan, a representative of ECAG.

Following what many see as an ineffective campaign by MRPV to share the proposed design in September 2018, the impact of the works — the extent of the removal of the trees — was not fully visualised to both commuters and the broader community until late 2019, when ECAG tied red ribbons to all the trees planned to be removed at the Eltham Gateway, as well as publishing mock-ups of the proposed design.

ECAG also submitted a petition with 3,000 signatures to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, requesting the project is halted and more a sympathetic design be sought, with more up to date traffic data.

In November 2019, the Diary ran a story on the ECAG red ribbon protest and asked MRPV if they were planning to alter the plans, given works are scheduled to begin in 2020.

At the time, MRPV told the Diary: “Updated preliminary designs will be published on the Major Road Projects Victoria website in the coming weeks.”

Nearly three months passed with no update, so the Diary contacted MRPV again for an update on the works, MRPV has now released information regarding alterations to the proposed 11 lane intersection.

Major Road Projects Victoria’s Delivery Director, Steve Cornish, told the Diary the design balanced important community feedback about the local significance of the Eltham Gateway with the needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’ve listened to what’s important to the community and investigated a number of design options,” Mr Cornish said.

“The design changes we’ve made will reduce the number of trees that are impacted, while still ensuring we can deliver vital safety benefits and reduce congestion.”

The new design slightly reduces the footprint and, according to MRPV, reduces the number of trees being removed.

But details in their latest update are vague.

Following a meeting between the project team and ECAG on Wednesday, February 26, ECAG spoke to the Diary, and indicated they were still “very disappointed” with the planned works.

“They have not taken on board community concerns,” said Ms Quinlan.

Although the updated design reduces the number of trees that need to be removed, the trees which currently stand in the middle and around the roundabout are still going, which has been the whole point of ECAGs protest.

Ms Quinlan told the Diary ECAG includes members who have experience in urban design, engineering et cetera, and that the group has submitted alternative design ideas to MRPV, which meet the expectations of both MRPV and the local community, but these have been declined.

Ms Quinlan also reinforced the sentiment that ECAG is not against the road improvement project in principle.

She said the community action group simply want a design which maintains the character and amenity of the Eltham Gateway.

Whilst ECAG continue to negotiate with MRPV for a better deign, the project continues to grind through the necessary bureaucratic processes needed for works to begin with the necessary planning amendments gazetted on January 16.

Construction is still scheduled to begin later this year.

The Diary asked MRPV for specific details regarding the number of trees saved in the new design, as well as comment on how traffic flow will be impacted by the North East Link.

“Design refinements, since the initial reference design was released in September 2018, have resulted in a total of 150 fewer trees needing to be removed.

“This includes a most recent saving of 50 fewer trees needing to be removed with the design revisions released in February 2020.

“Major Road Projects Victoria’s traffic modelling showed that while traffic volumes on Fitzsimons Lane are expected to reduce with the opening of North East Link (2027), the existing roundabout would continue to create congestion, long queues and risky driver behaviour without an upgrade.

“Every iteration of the design has taken into account how future traffic volumes will affect the intersection.

“The updated design has reduced the overall footprint of the upgrade, while still delivering significant improvements to safety and congestion to Fitzsimons Lane.

“Major Road Projects Victoria will continue to inform and consult the community through web, electronic and mail updates, door knocks to nearby properties, community information sessions, and pop ups at events.”

The recent “artist’s impression” released by MRPV as part of the February update has also come under fire from ECAG on social media with a post on the groups Facebook page haranguing Major Roads for an artist’s impression which is misleading and not to scale.

There is still time for the community to voice their concerns or seek clarity on any aspect of the design.

MRPV is hosting a Drop In Session at Eltham Library on Wednesday, March 11, from 6pm.