Tag Archives: Queen of the Shire

The Bridge is complete: but at what cost?

AS THE QUEEN of the Shire was returned to her rightful place, State Government politicians have come out to applaud the completion of the Warrandyte Bridge.
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green has officially announced the completion of the project to widen the bridge to three lanes and build a new shared path for pedestrians and cyclists across the Yarra River.
“We’ve worked hard to make this bridge safer while preserving the unique character of the bridge and this area of Warrandyte,” said Ms Green.
She also commended the people of Warrandyte for their patience during the roadworks.
“We appreciate all of the feedback we received from locals who helped shape the look and feel of this bridge and showed great patience while we made these important safety improvements,” she said.
Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra said: “I am really pleased to see the results of this project to make the bridge crossing safer and easier for all local road users.”
So with the politicians marking the project as complete, the Diary thought it was time to ask the authorities concerned with the Bridge Upgrade project whether they regarded it as complete, and what the total cost was.
Nillumbik suggested that we ask VicRoads whether they had any further landscaping works to be done on the north side.
Manningham told us that “Council is working with VicRoads to plan the delivery of the surrounding landscape works” in particular with reference to the Lions Park project, so we take it that there is still more site clearing and landscaping work to be done on the south side by VicRoads.
We asked VicRoads whether they considered the project to be complete, however they had not responded by the time we went to press.
Cost of the Upgrade
The Andrews Labor Government committed $5.1 million funding for the project in March 2016.
In May 2017, we ascertained the contract had been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M.
In November 2017, following representations in State Parliament by local member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, a further $200,000 had been secured for the slip-lane on the south side.
Following extensive delays to the project we asked VicRoads in November 2018 what the final cost of the project would be, in view of rumours circulating that the cost had blown out way beyond the original funding commitments.
At that time, they responded “The total cost of the project will be provided once complete”.
The Diary has continued to ask VicRoads over the past month what the final cost will be, and they have failed to respond to our questions.
We will publish an update if we learn anything further.

Spruced up and ready to come home

THE QUEEN of the Shire is coming home, and her creator, highly acclaimed sculptor Deborah Halpern, is one of many that will be happy to see her back where
she belongs.

“I’m glad she is coming home,” said Deborah, “it’s exciting.”

Residents and visitors to the area have asked of her whereabouts and when she is returning.

“When a work is made for a special place and it is moved it is upsetting,” said Deborah.

Queen of the Shire, commissioned by Nillumbik Council and installed in 2015, usually stands 2.5 metres above the ground, on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Rd just north of the bridge, marking the entrance to Nillumbik Shire.

Per the agreement between Council and VicRoads, the sculpture was removed for protection.

“She was in the way”, said Deborah.

Queen of the Shire was found to have some damage so was taken away
for repairs.

“She’s gone … to have a little revamp,” said Deborah.

Council spokesperson Mitch Grayson said the artwork underwent a standard condition report while roadworks were underway.

“This condition report applies to all public artworks exposed to natural elements that can cause some wear”.

Council attributed the damage to “almost three years of exposure to natural elements”, saying that the repairs only amounted to “replacing about five missing tiles out of a sculpture that has a couple of thousand tiles”.

He said the costs were minimal — “and well within the standard maintenance budget for keeping public artworks in pristine condition”.

As a gateway piece, Queen of the Shire has the role of both welcoming residents and visitors into Nillumbik Shire, and also of watching over
that area.

“If only she could speak,” said Deborah, “if only she could say, look — slow down, you have to be careful here.

“We have the river, and we love our river, we love our little village … so be careful.”

When the sculpture first went up, many people would tell Deborah how much they loved her, and that “she was magical”.

“Her eyes look at you,” they would say, and Deborah’s response was “yes, she is looking, she is looking at everything and she’s looking
after everything.”

Growing up in Warrandyte, Deborah has lived here for over 60 years and has noticed that many things have changed.

Perhaps the return of The Queen of the Shire is a good opportunity to remind us all that there is a law to the land and we must be careful, we need to treat the area with respect.

“There are a lot of people here who are new to Warrandyte,” said Deborah, “and you have to get into the vibe and understand it.

“You need to have a sensitivity to the place you are in and take time to find out about it.”

Although not aware of her official return date, having her ready to come back is a relief.

With the bridge now open as usual, people have been wondering when and even if the Queen would return but with a new footing poured and the giant truck warning sign relocated, the Diary has been able to confirm with both VicRoads and Nillumbik Shire Council that Warrandyte and Nillumbik Shire’s prized sculpture will return within a few weeks.

“I enjoy spending time with her because I get to revisit the process … but she has a job to do … and she is coming back to look over that intersection … to look over the area.”

“We have restored her and she looks beautiful again, we have cleaned her up… and now she is coming home.”

Mitch Grayson agrees, telling the Diary that the Shire Council is very much looking forward to her being re-installed.

“What a great day that will be for all the people who have missed her so much!” he said.

Deborah is part of the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios, and her studio will be one of many open on the weekend of May 4-5 (see page 9 for more details).

 

Bridgeworks finally commence

THE LONG-AWAITED works to upgrade Warrandyte Bridge finally commenced on January 15.

Major traffic disruption is expected over two full weekends in March when the Warrandyte Bridge will be completely closed to traffic on the Saturday and Sunday.

There may also be another full weekend closure in July.

Although VicRoads has not yet decided which two weekends in March are designated for the closures, they have confirmed that the bridge will remain open for the Festival weekend of March 17–18.

Whisper around the traps is that they may avoid the Labour Day long weekend of March 10–12, which leaves the possibility of March 3–4 and March 24–25, although the actual dates will be confirmed in February.

Residents planning trips during March weekends may need to reschedule their activities or plan for extra time as crossing the river during those two weekends will involve a 25km long diversion through Templestowe, Eltham and Research.

VicRoads has also confirmed that these bridge closures will be postponed if the Fire Danger Rating for Central District reaches Severe or above, or on days of Total Fire Ban.

CFA captains Trent Burris of North Warrandyte and Adrian Mullens of Warrandyte have advised the Diary that the emergency services have been fully consulted and they are both happy with the arrangements.

In the event of fire callouts during these closures, supporting brigades will be called from the same side of the river as the incident.

Now that it has officially started, the works which subcontractors VEC Civil Engineering Pty. Ltd. will be undertaking involve:

• Increasing the number of traffic lanes on the bridge from two to three, with two lanes southbound.

• New footpaths, including a shared user path for cyclists and pedestrians on the west side of the bridge.

• A wider intersection on the north side with traffic lights at the intersection of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road.

• A new left-turn slip lane on Yarra Street eastbound for traffic turning left onto the bridge.

The worksite is at the Lions’ tennis courts on the southwest side of the bridge, and already some of the fencing has been demolished and contractors’ sheds and amenities installed.

Lions Club of Warrandyte president Jenni Dean told the Diary, “The tennis courts have not been well used recently and are a burden to maintain and run.

“We have been in discussions with Manningham Council and VicRoads and have agreed that the courts can be used as the worksite for the duration of the works, after which they will be turned into an outdoor fitness and recreation area.”

A spokesperson for Manningham Council’s Landscape and Leisure department, told the Diary that once the works were completed it was intended to completely demolish the worksite, tennis courts and fencing and turn the area into beautiful landscaped public open space with unrestricted access from the car park down to the Yarra.

Works undertaken on the weekend of January 20–21 saw the bridge taken down to one lane and an overnight power outage, works included:

• Removing light poles.

• Removing three trees on the south side.

• Removing sections of the road surface in preparation for a new surface

• Installing barriers and temporary yellow lane markings on the bridge, with restricted lane widths.

• Removing the pedestrian traffic island on the north side of the roundabout – much later a zebra crossing will be installed.

• Renewing the 22kV bundled electrical cable which spans the Yarra to the west of the bridge and relocating poles so as to be out of the way of the upcoming works.

Over the next few weeks, works will include installing scaffolding around the bridge and the temporary removal of the Queen of the Shire.

Until the work nears completion, there will be no access for pedestrians on the north side of Yarra Street to cross Kangaroo Ground road at the bridge roundabout.

Pedestrians will need to cross to the south side at the roundabout, walk past the bus stop, and cross back again on the other side, or use the river path under the bridge.