Tag Archives: VicRoads

Roadworks on the horizon

Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade: Foote Street works

IT MUST be school holidays soon, as Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) Lane announce further road closures will be required across the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade as completion works continue.
A statement from MRPV says there will be intermittent nightworks between 7pm and 5am Sundays to Thursdays — and if required on some Friday nights— between now and December 21 for final asphalting and line-marking (weather pending).
These works will progress across all legs of the intersection.
Road users are urged to allow extra time as temporary lane closures and traffic management measures will be in place.
Foote Street will be closed at Williamsons Road for limited times, when there will be detours in place using Anderson Street, Porter Street, Church Road, King Street, Lynnwood Parade and High Street.
Local residents will still be able to access their properties during this time with guidance from traffic controllers.
Impacted residents closest to the scheduled works will be notified closer to the date.
The speed limit is reduced to 40 km/h through the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade and traffic management is in place. Continue to allow extra time for your journey.
For more information, please visit the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade webpage at bigbuild.vic.gov.au/projects/mrpv/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade.

Yarra Street and Ringwood-Warrandyte Road maintenance works

VicRoads is about to commence extensive road maintenance on a 1.7km section of Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.
The works will take place between Monday, December 12 and Wednesday, December 21 between 8pm and 5am, every night (except Friday and Saturday nights) on the section of Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between the Warrandyte Bridge and Jumping Creek Road, with works beginning at the Jumping Creek Road end.
VicRoads has said its crews will work at night to minmiise traffic disruption and that dates and times are subject to weather conditions.
No works will occur over the Christmas and New Year period.
Crews will return from Sunday, January 8. 2023 to complete the road rehabilitation works, if the weather permits.
We’ll provide further information before these works start.
How will this impact you:

  • During nightworks, Yarra Street and Ringwood-Warrandyte Road will be closed between the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and Jumping Creek Road roundabouts, with a signed detour in place via Harris Gully Road, Beauty Gully Road, Knees Road and Falconer Road.
  • There will be periods where there will be no vehicle access for properties along Yarra Street and Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.
    Please refer to the table below for further information about access.
  • Access to Yarra Street businesses and the carpark along the Yarra River will be maintained.
  • Access for emergency services and public transport buses will be maintained.
  • Medium to high noise levels.
  • Some vibrations and dust around work areas while we remove the existing layer of the road, lay new asphalt, and reinstate the road.

Planned work schedule and access information for local residents and businesses

*Please note that works are subject to favourable weather conditions and may change depending on circumstances each night.
We’ll maintain access to emergency services and public transport buses.

Schedule Works location Access information during nightworks
Monday 12 December 2022 between 8pm and 5am Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Jumping Creek Road and Pigtail Road No access for vehicles on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road from 384 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road to 380 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Detour via Falconer Road, Knees Road, Beauty Gully Road and Harris Gully Road.

Residents within the closed section will not have vehicle access to and from their properties between 8pm and 5am while the road is being excavated.

Tuesday 13 December 2022 between 8pm and 5am Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Jumping Creek Road and Pigtail Road No access for vehicles on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between 380 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and 376 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Detour via Falconer Road, Knees Road, Beauty Gully Road and Harris Gully Road.

Residents within the closed section will not have vehicle access to and from their properties between 8pm and 5am while the road is being excavated.

Wednesday 14 December 2022 between 8pm and 5am Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Jumping Creek Road and Pigtail Road No access for vehicles on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between 380 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and 376 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Detour via Falconer Road, Knees Road, Beauty Gully Road and Harris Gully Road.

Residents within the closed section will not have vehicle access to and from their properties between 8pm and 5am while the road is being excavated.

Thursday 15 December 2022 between 8pm and 5am Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Godfrey Avenue and Masonic Avenue No access for vehicles on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between 358 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Pigtail Road. Detour via Falconer Road, Knees Road, Beauty Gully Road and Harris Gully Road.

Residents within the closed section will not have vehicle access to and from their properties between 8pm and 5am while the road is being excavated.

Sunday 18 December 2022 between 8pm and 5am Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Godfrey Avenue and Masonic Avenue No access for vehicles on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Masonic Avenue and 358 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Detour via Falconer Road, Knees Road, Beauty Gully Road and Harris Gully Road.

Residents within the closed section will not have vehicle access to and from their properties between 8pm and 5am while the road is being excavated.

Monday 19 December 2022 between 8pm and 5am Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Masonic Avenue and Tills Drive No access for vehicles on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between 340 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Masonic Avenue. Detour via Falconer Road, Knees Road, Beauty Gully Road and Harris Gully Road.

Residents within the closed section will not have vehicle access to and from their properties between 8pm and 5am while the road is being excavated.

Tuesday 20 December 2022 between 8pm and 5am Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between Masonic Avenue and Tills Drive No access for vehicles on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road between 330 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and 340 Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.

Detour via Falconer Road, Knees Road, Beauty Gully Road and Harris Gully Road.

Residents within the closed section will not have vehicle access to and from their properties between 8pm and 5am while the road is being excavated.

Fiveways intersection strikes again

A MAJOR COLLISION at the intersection at Croydon Road and Ringwood-Warrandyte Road has seen a resurgence of calls for an upgrade to the dangerous intersection.
A Police spokesperson told the Diary a 24-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries following a collision between a car and a truck just before midday on Friday, September 3.
The intersection of Ringwood- Warrandyte Road/Croydon Road/ Husseys Lane and Brumbys Lane in Warrandyte South, known locally as “Fiveways” is on a State controlled arterial road managed by the Department of Transport (DoT) which incorporates VicRoads.
Member of Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said he had been lobbying the government with three successive Labor Roads Ministers, “all of which have either ignored our community or assured us the intersection is safe”.
After years of agitation falling on deaf ears at VicRoads, many locals have taken to social media to vent their anger at the lack of action, with one local saying it is an “absolute disgrace that VicRoads refuse to do anything despite the community pleading for years”.
Renny Koerner-Brown created an online petition in 2019 that gathered more than 1,000 signatures.
Following this most recent accident she said: “It hurts my soul that after years of fighting VicRoads for something to be done, and their response to me and Ryan Smith has been “not on their radar”.

“What is it going to take to get this horrendous intersection “on the … radar”?

Former Police Officer and now Secretary of South Warrandyte CFA, Kim Dixon was first on scene at the accident, and has since written to Roads Minister Ben Minister, which she has shared with the Diary.

“If this isn’t a fatality, it will only be by the grace of god,” she wrote, after outlining the seriousness of the woman’s injuries, and the trauma of waiting with her until the Ambulance arrived.

She said it is not just the victims of the car accidents that occur at this intersection that suffer.

“The workers at the Shell Service station, who constantly see and hear accidents occurring and then go to their assistance.
The locals that live nearby, that assist the victims till emergency services arrive.
The Police, Fire and Ambulance Services that attend this intersection regularly, that just ‘accept’ that accidents happen at this intersection, as no one will acknowledge that there is a major issue there.”

Ms Dixon asked the Minister “why are roadworks being performed or proposed at intersection like Warrandyte Road and Tortice Drive, North Ringwood, that don’t carry as much traffic or seem to be less accident prone that this intersection.

“Why are insignificant roundabouts and gutter works being performed on Knees Road, Park Orchards, where there is definitely minimal traffic compared to this intersection and I would say little to no accidents occurring?” she asked.

Ms Dixon wrote:

“Someone needs to stop saying that this intersection is not on Vic Roads radar to be fixed.
Bureaucrats that allegedly keep informing members of the community that there need to be at least 3 deaths before they will even look at fixing the intersection.
This is not acceptable.
Passing the buck needs to stop and it needs to stop now.”

A spokesperson for the DoT told the Diary the Fiveways intersection, is a key, high volume access route.

“We will be working with Victoria Police to investigate the circumstances of the crash — and our thoughts are with the victim and her loved ones.
The safety of everyone travelling on our roads is our number one priority.
As part of the investigations we will review this intersection and make any improvements required to keep Victorians on our road network safe.”

The DoT spokesperson said assessments to improve the intersection are continually being made — including working to reduce bottlenecks and improve traffic flow.

“We receive many requests each year for safety improvements and upgrades to intersections, including new traffic lights, from across Victoria.
All requests are prioritised based on the extent to which such a treatment would improve safety and/or congestion at each intersection.
We consider a range of factors such as the number and type of vehicles using the intersection, the need to cater for pedestrians, the historical safety record of the site and the impact the improvements would have on the surrounding road network.”

The DoT spokesperson said there were six incidents at this intersection between 31/12/2016 and 31/12/2020,

Crashes question road safety

Crashes question road safety

By SANDI MILLER

 

LOCAL TRUCK driver, Stephen Goldsworthy says “enough is enough” after being forced to swerve his delivery truck into a ditch to avoid head on collision on Brysons Road in late June.

“My truck is a write off,” he said.

He told the Diary he was driving along Brysons Road, when he saw another truck come towards him in the middle of the road

“It was speeding towards me as I came around the bend I had nowhere to go — I hit the wall and wrote off the truck.”

He said the other driver stopped briefly before driving off.

“If I had not driven my van into the [ditch], the van coming the other way would have hit me head on, it was on the wrong side of the road, and I suspect speeding.

“He would have known what had happened, and then he drove off.”

While he managed to walk away from the accident, he said he is disgusted with the state of Brysons Road.

“Brysons Road is a mess, a total mess,” he said.

He said with no footpath on Brysons Road, people have to walk on the road, there is nowhere for kids to ride their bikes on the way to school.

He also says the drains are more than half a metre deep in places,

“They have not been managed at all, the road often floods, because the drains are full of debris,” he said.

He also says that with trees only 30–40cm away from the road, the speed limits are inappropriate.

“I would be lucky to be doing 40 safely [given the condition of the road],” he said.

However, he is appalled that the road carries a Federal Black Spot sign only 150 metres from where the crash occurred, despite not having any substantial work done on it for the 12 years he has lived on that road, particularly as the road is currently carrying additional traffic as the Jumping Creek Road traffic is being detoured along that road.

He said that funding is given to projects in more populated areas but is not going where is it needed.

“Someone will die on that road before Christmas,” he said.

Stephen is calling for a public meeting to discuss what should be done, saying that “Council, State and Federal Government, along with VicRoads are not taking the safety of our local residents seriously”.

“Federal Government, VicRoads, Council, we don’t care who is responsible, we just want it fixed.

 

Taking care, taking responsibility

Meanwhile a woman who was seriously injured in a crash in January at Warrandyte Bridge is calling for changes on Research Road.

Ana Quine was trapped in her vehicle for several hours, broke several bones and received lacerations, when a truck collided with her car when its brakes failed coming down Research Road toward the bridge.

“I would like to see signs telling trucks to check their brakes, warning about the steep incline,” she said.

Her mother, Benita Quine says there has got to be more accountability and more policing, to get the message through, that it is not just road deaths that leave a lasting legacy on families.

“Ana’s life was saved, and we are very grateful.

“But they don’t see the result, she has a lifetime of injury because of someone not thinking, ‘oh should I check my brakes’; the police officer said the driver knew his brakes were failing, and he could have pulled over at some point,” Benita said.

Ana said she understands that change happens gradually.

“I would like to see small changes that would add up to something better, like warning signs on the road.”

She implored people to be aware while driving “not driving for yourself but for everyone around you”.

“You can’t predict when an animal is going to run out in front of you, but you can help yourself be able to react, by doing the speed limit and leaving your phone in the back seat — none of these things contributed to my accident, but there are just so many things people could be doing every single day, simple things that won’t be as inconvenient as you think, but something that could save someone’s life.

“I think a lot of people who drive by [an accident] are hoping that the person survives, but then the person surviving has to deal with surviving afterwards.

“Coming so close to not surviving is something that makes you feel very, very mortal,” Ana said.

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).

 

“Plan ahead” as bridgeworks return

IN A MAJOR change of plan, VicRoads has announced with just four days’ advance notice that the resurfacing works on the bridge will commence next Monday, February 11 and are scheduled to take place for the full week in both daytime and night-time including the morning peak period.

Daytime works are scheduled to take place between 7am and 5pm from Monday, February 11 to Saturday, February 16.

Night-time works are scheduled to take place between 8pm and 5am from Tuesday, February 12 to Monday, February 18.

The suddenness of these works and the announcement of both day and night lane closures may come as a bit of a shock, when the Diary recently asked VicRoads about any further lane closures, Stephane Hinkeesing, Manager Structures Metro said:

“Over the coming weeks, we’ll be finalising our works including new asphalting on the bridge and permanent line marking.

“During these works, there may be some overnight temporary lane closures.”

The new update advises that during the above times there will be lane closures on the bridge; however traffic flow will be maintained with on-site traffic management, although it is unclear how many lanes will be open.

The latest email update also states:

“Works can only proceed under favourable weather conditions and can be impacted by rain, cold or excessive heat.

Contingency dates have been included in case of unfavourable weather.”

This would indicate — assuming all goes well — road users in Warrandyte may not need to suffer through a full week of lane closures.

But with peak time traffic still backing up, it is possible that any lane closures are going to have an adverse effect on already congested Warrandyte roads.

Take heed at VicRoads advice, plan ahead and assume the bridge is out of order for the second full week of February.

Bridge works slip a further two months

THE DECEMBER Bridge Update Bulletin from VicRoads is now to hand and quietly announces a further major slip to the completion date, which is now listed as “late-February”.
Considering that these works were due to be completed by the end of September and at that time slipped a further three months to “before end of 2018” it is fair to say that the project completion now slips by two months every three months.
And interestingly the contact phone numbers and email addresses for further queries have been removed from the latest bulletin.
We had all expected that the night lane closures scheduled for next week would put the final surface and line markings on the bridge and enable it to be fully opened but we now learn that this work will now not take place until late-January and not be complete until late-February.
All three lanes are now open on the bridge, with temporary barriers separating the northbound from the southbound traffic, and there has been much discussion on social media at the relative narrowness of the lanes and folk are asking why it was necessary to have two footpaths at the expense of lane width.
A single night of lane closure next week is scheduled for either Tuesday 18 or Wednesday 19 December to do some further lane marking, but obviously this will not be the finished job.
Work scheduled for the rest of December involves completing the bus stop upgrade, installing traffic signage, completing pedestrian fencing and packing up the site facilities.
Looking on the brighter side, it would seem that we do at least get all three lanes open during the upcoming fire season.

 

 

Cartoon: COREY UPCYCLED BY ONA & SYD

Bridgeworks nearing completion

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.

 Traffic flow

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.

November roadworks

UPDATE: Monday November 19

An overnight lane closure has been scheduled on the Warrandyte Bridge between 8pm on Monday November 19 and 5am on Tuesday November 20 – with traffic allowed to cross the bridge, using only 1 (one) lane, under traffic management.

If you are travelling across the Warrandyte Bridge or around the area between these times, please me mindful there may be delays to your journey.

These works are advertised to allow the relocation of temporary safety barriers.

The November/December update also indicates roadworks to expand the bus top on the roundabout are also due to occur in the near future –  these works will allow articulated (bendy) busses to use the Warrandyte Bridge  bus stop, the Diary is looking into this as we are unaware of any plans to introduce “bendy busses” to the 906 bus route.

The bridge bus stop will be closed when these roadworks occur.

When these works take place, the bus stop outside the Warrandyte Library will serve as the start point for the 906.

The Warrandyte Diary will update this story as more details become available.

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[previous story continues below]

With last weeks overnight closures cancelled due to the wet weather, VicRoads today announced the next string of bridge and lane closures starting this Sunday.

On Sunday November 11, the bridge will be completely closed to traffic overnight, from 8pm Sunday to 5am Monday morning.

As with previous bridge closures, pedestrians and bicycles will still be able to cross the bridge, under the guidance of traffic management.

On Monday November 12, the bridge, and the roads around it, will be reduced to one lane, under traffic management between 8pm and 5am the next morning.

On Tuesday November 13, the bridge and surrounding roads will again be educed to one lane, under traffic management between 8pm and 5am the next morning.

As with the planned closures on November 7 and 8, these works are to facilitate asphalting and line marking – let’s hope the weather is more agreeable this time.

 

Forthcoming Warrandyte Bridge nightworks October/November 2018

Pictured: Image of Warrandyte Bridge during the last full bridge closure

[updated Monday November 5, 11:50am]

Bridge and lane closures scheduled for later this week

As we head into the first full week of November, plans publicised on Friday November 2 for more overnight works on the bridge are still in place.

On Wednesday November 7, the bridge will be be closed to traffic between 8pm Wednesday night and 5am Thursday morning.

As with previous closures, pedestrians and cyclists will still have access, under traffic management.

On Thursday November 8, the bridge will be reduced to one lane overnight between 8pm Thursday and 5am Friday.

Vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists will be able to cross the bridge, but under traffic management.

The reasons given for these closures is line-marking and additional asphalting.

In previous instances of this type of work, there has been a warning that weather may affect the ability for these works to be carried out.

As yet, there is no change and these closures appear to be going ahead, but with the damp start to the week, the Diary suggests you all keep a close eye on the weather.

The Diary will continue to monitor these works and update you if anything changes.

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[previous updates below]

[updated Wednesday October 31 2:05pm]

THIS JUST IN: Bridge closure extended a further two nights (Wednesday night October 31 and Thursday night November 1) but no nightworks on Friday

VicRoads have informed the Diary that contractors will close the bridge for an additional two nights (tonight and tomorrow) as they race to complete the bridgeworks.

The bridge will be closed between 10pm and 5am Wednesday October 31 and Thursday November 1 to allow contractors to asphalt the north side of the bridge.

The lane closures originally scheduled for tonight will still go ahead, meaning there will be single lane closures, with traffic control on Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road as well.

The extension of the bridge closure means there will now be no work on Friday night going into the long weekend.

The official release from VicRoads is scheduled for release at 2:30pm on Wednesday October 31 (today)

Asphalting of the bridge itself will be delayed for a couple of weeks, times and closures yet to be determined but it is hoped to do this with single lane working rather than a further full closure.

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Single lane closures in effect on Warrandyte Bridge on Friday October 26..

Contractors will be doing further single lane closures on the bridge on Friday.

They will try to minimise disruption by only stopping one lane while the concrete truck is pouring each load, rather than keeping it closed for the duration as they did today.

 

Earlier this week, VicRoads released their plan for the next set of bridge and lane closures as construction crews and engineers push towards project completion before the end of the year.

The latest closures will facilitate asphalting works on the bridge and on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and Research-Warrandyte Road.

Diary reporter David Hogg, spoke with VicRoads about the forthcoming roadworks.

Bridge closure

From Sunday October 28 to Tuesday October 30 (for three consecutive nights), the Bridge will be closed to vehicles between 8pm and 5am.

The plan is for the bridge to be open as usual during the day, with the bridge nightworks scheduled to finish on Wednesday morning.

Pedestrians and cyclists will sill be able to cross the bridge during these times, under the guidance of traffic management.

If you need to cross the river between 8pm and 5am during this period, VicRoads will have traffic detours in place similar to those used during the last bridge closure.

VicRoads detour map for Warrandyte Bridge closures

Lane closures, north of the bridge

From Wednesday October 31 to Friday November 2, there will be overnight lane closures in effect on Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road between 8pm and 5am, with the road returning to normal working condition at 5am on Saturday morning (November 3).

Warrandyte resident Mike Flavel, concerned how the lane closures will affect Warrandyte’s Halloween activities contacted VicRoads to make them aware of the situation.

Strategic Engagement Advisor for VicRoads, Jacqueline Novoselac issued this response:

“Our aim is to finish these works as quickly as possible so hopefully the lane closures on Wednesday night may not need to go ahead.

“However, I have spoken to our project team and they have committed to starting the works at 10pm in order to accommodate the Halloween events.”

So trick or treaters and their parents/guardians will now have until at least 10pm on October 31, before lane closures come into affect – if the lane closure is still needed.

Further info

All these works are subject to weather conditions.

If it is cold or very wet, the asphalting work will be delayed.

The Diary has been informed that VicRoads know the Warrandyte Riverside Market is on November 3 and are not planning on any bridge closures that weekend.

VicRoads were unable to clarify:

  • how the lane system will work after the asphalting
  • when the traffic lights will be installed
  • when the traffic-able width will be extended
  • when the remaining concreting will take place
  • if there is a need for any further full closures

No more new information is expected until the release of the November Information Update Bulletin but if any new information does come to light, the Diary will provide any updates on these scheduled works, via this news story.

October 2018

To download your copy of the October 2018 Warrandyte Diary click here!

Warrandyte Bridgeworks update

As the Diary goes to print, VicRoads announce an extension to this week’s work which involves reducing a section of Yarra Street to one lane with traffic control, works will now take place on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week:

Works originally scheduled for completion on Monday 13, Thursday 16 and Friday 17 August 2018 will now be completed on:
Monday 13 August 2018
Tuesday 14 August 2018
Thursday 16 August 2018
Friday 17 August 2018
We apologise for any inconvenience or confusion, however we will need more time, than originally thought, to complete these works safely.

We’re working with Yarra Valley Water to complete some service relocations along Yarra Street as part of the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade.

Yarra Valley Water will be excavating the road surface near the roundabout on Yarra Street to complete these service relocations.

When to expect us

Monday 13, Tuesday 14, Thursday 16 and Friday 17 August 2018

Time: 9:30am – 3:30pm

The impacts during these works include:
Only 1 lane on Yarra Street will be open for both directions of traffic. We’ll have traffic management on site to direct one side through at a time.
Long delays up to 15 minutes are expected on Yarra Street and the Warrandyte Bridge.
Pedestrian access around the area will be impacted during these works. We’ll have a site supervisor on site to assist any pedestrians with disabilities wanting to walk through the works area.
There’ll also be some dust and noise from excavation work on the road surface.
You can access real-time traffic disruption information via VicTraffic

These works may result in service disruptions. Your service provider will contact you if you’ll be impacted.

We thank you for your patience while we work to improve the Warrandyte Bridge for the community.

The Warrandyte Diary will continue to monitor these works and will publish any further updates here.

Warrandyte bridgeworks update

Bridge reduced to one lane overnight tonight to facilitate lane switch

AFTER a successful concrete pour, VicRoads have today announced the Warrandyte Bridge lane swap will happen overnight between 10pm, Wednesday July 11 and 5am, Thursday July 12.

Contraflow and traffic management will be in place to ensure traffic is still able to move across the Bridge overnight.

When completed, northbound traffic will use the new section of the bridge.

Southbound traffic will continue to use the current upstream lane.

This will allow VicRoads contractors VEC to work on the middle section of the bridge.

Pedestrian access will remain on the upstream path and the north bank pedestrian crossing will remain in place until bridgeworks are completed.

The Diary will keep across this story and report here if there are any changes to the current bridgeworks plan.

Bridgeworks in full swing

AFTER A two-month delay from the original scheduled weekend closure, the Warrandyte Bridge was fully closed over the weekend of May 5–6 and works have now resumed in earnest on the main bridge structure.

Single lane working occurred on April 18 for the AusNet works to replace the power pole at the bridge, and then again on May 2 for the VicRoads bridgeworks.

Although conducted outside the peak period, these single-lane working days caused significant traffic congestion in all four directions, the worst being on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Traffic delays ranged from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, with the average wait time being around 22 minutes.

VicRoads told the Diary that all future single lane closures will be done at night to minimise the impact on the community.

The installation of the protruding cantilever beams was completed during the period of single-lane working on May 2, and the big job of completing installation of the three huge lateral beams was performed very efficiently during the weekend of May 5–6.

In fact, the job was done so quickly that the bridge was reopened to traffic late on May 6.

The result of this work is that there is now a long lateral beam running for the entire length of the bridge about three metres out from original structure on the downstream side.

The job over the next few weeks will be for massive concrete pours to fill in the gap, following which we will have a much wider bridge surface. The existing railings on the downstream side can then be demolished and a new barrier erected to separate the new northbound lane from the new shared walkway.

At the same time, work is continuing on the north side to erect new traffic barriers, and on the upstream side in preparation for a slight overhang to accommodate the new pedestrian pathway on that side.

Although the May Information Update Bulletin has removed reference to the expected completion date, engineers advise they are still hopeful that the work can be completed by September/October.

Further full weekend closures are expected in the next couple of months, but at this stage the dates for these have not been set.

Rat-runners prompt temporary road closure

By DAVID HOGG

NILLUMBIK Council advises that following consultation with residents it has resolved to implement a temporary road closure on Dingley Dell Road near the intersection with Blooms Road while the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade works are in progress.

Residents have been vocal in their disgust of “rat-runners” speeding down the narrow dirt road to avoid the traffic build-up on Research-Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Roads.

The temporary road closure will be in the form of a gate and is scheduled for installation mid-May.

The gate will be removed and the road reopened once the bridgeworks have been completed.

Complimentary signage to reinforce the road closure will also be installed on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte, Research-Warrandyte and Blooms Roads.

Signage is also proposed at the southern leg of Dingley Dell Road to advise of the road closure ahead to enable vehicles to turn at Dingley Close.

Nillumbik Council recognises that the road closure is likely to result in an inconvenience to the broader community; however, it considers this intervention critical to manage the unprecedented ‘cut-through’ traffic use of this local road.

Telstra outage hits North Warrandyte

AN UNFORTUNATE sequence of events, coupled with ageing infrastructure, have left a large number of North Warrandyte residents without landline phones and ADSL internet for almost a fortnight.

On May 9 a contractor working on the bridge project damaged a hydrant near Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road causing a water main to rupture, which left residents on both sides of the river without water for several hours.

The ensuing flood necessitated single lane working at the bridge while Yarra Valley Water (YVW) attended and repaired the fracture which led to further misery to motorists who are already frustrated by the road congestion in and around Warrandyte.

Dona Tantirimudalige, General Manager, Distribution Services at YVW advised us “Permanent repairs were completed and water supply restored as quickly as possible, with no further works required.

“We thank the community for their patience while these works were carried out.”

Unfortunately the flood of water found its way into an important Telstra pit containing a 400-pair cable and damaged both the connections and the cable itself which has to be replaced leaving residents with no phone service and no or very slow-speed ADSL internet.

Residents had been complaining to their phone/internet suppliers about problems with their service since May 3 so it is assumed that water had already seeped into this pit before the great flood of May 9.

Loretta Willaton, Telstra Area General Manager, tells the Diary “We have up to 170 landline and internet customers without service in the Warrandyte area.

“Problems were first reported to us from May 5.

“We have had a major cable damaged and contractors are working daily to replace 150 metres of cable and join two separate ends.

“The work is complex and in a difficult area to access and completion is tentatively scheduled for May 16; however it may be restored sooner.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience this is causing and are working as quickly as possible to get customers back online.”

Vince Punaro, VicRoads Regional Director, Metro North West advised “VicRoads is aware of the issue of a burst fire hydrant in Warrandyte on Wednesday May 9.

“As soon as we were made aware of the issue, we worked quickly with the contractor, Melbourne Water and Yarra Valley Water and notified emergency services to minimise the impact on the community.”

Featured photo posted on Facebook Warrandyte Business and Community Page by Clive Rixon, May 9.

Full bridge closure this weekend: how to get around

After numerous postponements, the full closure of the Warrandyte Bridge is set to happen this weekend.

The works between May 4 and May 7 will include:

  • installing supports for the downstream bridge widening works
  • further preparation works for bridge strengthening
  • roadworks and clearing to prepare the road and surrounds for further works

Being the first weekend in May, it is also the Warrandyte Riverside Market.

To accommodate this, the following timetable for bridge closures has been put in place:

10pm, Friday May 4 — 5am, Saturday May 5

One lane of the bridge will be closed, with traffic management onsite, to help keep the traffic moving.

5am Saturday May 5 — 3pm Saturday May 5

The Warrandyte Bridge will be open as usual, this should reduce the impact of bridgeworks to stall holders and visitors of the Warrandyte Riverside Market.

3pm Saturday May 5 — 5am Monday May 7

Full closure of the bridge to vehicular traffic.

Cyclists and pedestrians will still be able to cross the bridge, under the direction of traffic management.

Although the Total Fire Ban period has officially ended in both Manningham and Nillumbik, VicRoads stress that scheduled bridgeworks may be modified/postponed to ensure the public safety and the efficiency of the emergency services is not impacted by bridge widening.

With a number of local events taking place this weekend, including the Kellybrook Cider Festival and Nillumbik Artists Open Studios, additional journey planning may be required.

Traffic diversions

 Both private and public transport will be affected by these works.

 Car

VicRoads have provided a map illustrating the traffic detours.

There will be four detours in place; (purple, green, yellow and orange).

All the detours start/finish on Main Street, Eltham, north of the river and cross the Fitzsimons Lane Bridge.

People travelling to Warrandyte are encouraged to follow the purple diversion which takes them down Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road.

For those travelling to Park Orchards and Warranwood and the South Warrandyte/Ringwood borders; the green diversion along Reynolds Road and Falconer Road is suggested.

For everyone else looking to travel between Eltham, Kangaroo Grounds and beyond, and Everywhere South and East of Ringwood, the yellow diversion (along EastLink) or the orange diversion (Box Hill and Whitehorse Road) is advised.

Full details of the diversion routes can be found under the diversion map.

 

Detour map (key)

  • Purple route: Main Road, Porter Street, Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road
  • Green route: Main Road, Fitzsimons Lane, Reynolds Road, Falconer Road
  • Yellow route: Main Road, Fitzsimons Lane, Williamsons Road, Tram Road, Eastern Freeway, Eastlink (toll road), Whitehorse Road
  • Orange route: Main Road, Fitzsimons Lane, Williamsons Road, Whitehorse Road OR Main Road, Fitzsimons Lane, Reynolds Road, Springvale Road, Whitehorse Road

Bus

During the bridge closure, PTV bus services 578 and 579 (Warrandyte Reserve to Eltham Station) WILL NOT CROSS the Warrandyte Bridge.

Passengers wishing to travel on the 578/579 can access the busses at the following bus stops north of the bridge:

578 – Research-Warrandyte Road/Bradleys Lane

579 – Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road/Research-Warrandyte Road

According to the Public Transport Victoria (PTV) website, PTV do not anticipate any disruption to the 906 and 364 bus services.

The Warrandyte Diary will keep an eye on the forthcoming bridgeworks and communicate any changes via our website and on social media.

Warrandyte’s bridgeworks and traffic nightmare

Mystery surrounds ongoing delays

EAGLE-EYED READERS will have noticed that not a lot has been happening with the bridge upgrade works over the last few weeks.

Certainly contractors are working on the north side drilling holes for the road barriers, however, nothing seems to have progressed on the bridge structure itself.

The scaffolding and access platforms are all in place on both sides, but there is no sign of any construction of cantilevers or beams.

The closure of the bridge over a full weekend was originally scheduled for March 3–4 but was postponed due to the market and the fun run being on that date.

The following weekend of March 10–12 was not suitable as it was the Labour Day long weekend, and the next weekend of 17–18 was the Warrandyte Festival.

The works were then re-scheduled for March 23–25 but were cancelled at extremely short notice, at 3pm on Friday March 23, because, according to VicRoads, “our contractor, VEC Civil Engineering, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams”.

This last minute cancellation caused disruption to residents and businesses who had put alternative arrangements in place, including cancelling newspaper and grocery deliveries to North Warrandyte and Warrandyte Theatre Company forgoing their matinee performance — it is still unclear why the decision to cancel  the full bridge closure occurred hours before it was meant to start.

Since then, not much has happened, and a complete veil of secrecy has descended on the project.

We visited the site and asked a number of VEC workers what was happening.

We were told, “we’re not allowed to say anything; you’ll have to talk to VicRoads”.

So we asked VicRoads:

• When will the postponed full weekend bridge closure be re-scheduled?

• Have you any dates for later full closures?

• What caused the delay to the originally planned closure?

• When will the whole works be completed?

• What is the schedule for further power outages when your electrical subcontractors need to do further work?

• Do you have any indication of when the traffic lights will be going in on the north side?

Vince Punaro, Regional Director Metro North West, VicRoads told the Diary “At this stage, we have not confirmed any further dates for full closures of the bridge.

“Any lane closures on the bridge will be shared well in advance with the local community and scheduled to minimise inconvenience.”

Cameron Tait, Media Advisor Public Engagement, VicRoads, offered some further information:

“The installation of traffic lights at the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and Research-Warrandyte Road intersection is expected to get underway in July.

“All works on the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade are scheduled to be completed by late 2018.”

The April Information Update Bulletin does not tell us much more than the March bulletin, other than that they will shortly be building a new retaining wall on the north side of the bridge, but it does indicate that the first full weekend closure is likely to be rescheduled for “late April/early May”.

VicRoads Strategic Engagement Advisor, Jacqueline Novoselac, insists that there are no problems, work
is continuing on the bridge and
that the project is not running
behind schedule.

However, the lack of activity on the bridge structure, ongoing postponements of the full closure, and the subtle change of the date for completion, previously September but now “late 2018” would suggest otherwise.

Any further delays might well drive this project into the next bushfire season.

Obviously something is amiss to have caused a two-month slippage of the closure for installation of cantilevers and beams, and we are not being told the reason.

In view of the significant traffic disruption and as public funds are being spent on this project, the public has a right to be kept better informed of progress and reasons for any delays.

The Diary will keep readers informed on any proposed road closures, as and when information comes to hand, either via this publication, the Diary website or social media channels.

Warrandyte road rage

SEVERE SPEED humps to the north of the bridge — an attempt to calm traffic and make a temporary pedestrian crossing safer — are potentially exacerbating traffic congestion as vehicles are forced to slow to a crawl to clear the traffic calming measures installed in early March.

In the busy hours, school and work commuters — on both sides of the bridge — can be delayed by anything up to 30 minutes.

In the morning, queues north of the river stretch back as far as Albert Road on Research-Warrandyte Road and Floods Road on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road.

While the evening queues south of the river stretch back as far as the roundabout at Harris Gully Road and to the five-ways Croydon Road junction on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.

VicRoads vehemently denies that any lengthening of queues is due to the speed humps, and blame any increased queues on the disruption to the Hurstbridge line train service which they say is causing more traffic in the area.

Queues have slackened off considerably in the last fortnight due to the school holidays, but congestion is expected to return to previous levels as of this week.

Additional congestion may also occur on April 18 when the power pole at the RSL is due to be replaced.

The increased queues are causing major headaches for residents on the unsealed roads in North Warrandyte, with many “rat run” drivers ignoring the “No Turn” signs at each end of Blooms Road in an attempt to find a short cut.

Eltham Police have been kept busy booking motorists who ignore these signs but are too busy to attend on a daily basis.

Dingley Dell Road has probably copped the worst of the rat run traffic with motorists from both directions attempting to use this narrow winding street as a shortcut.

But with the morning queues extending further up Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, a number of motorists are now turning into Floods Road and cutting through Boyd Street and Hawkes Road.

Michelle Parker from Hawkes Road is now on first name terms with the tow-truck drivers as two cars have already fallen into the ditch near her house, and she dreads the day there may be a head-on collision on the blind corner.

She adds, “You should see the chaos on Monday mornings when the rat run drivers meet the garbage truck!”

Suzanne Reid from Dingley Dell Road tells a similar story.

She and other residents are already upset that the signs preventing turns into Blooms Road make it virtually impossible for her to legally get back to her house before 9:30am after dropping children at school in Research.

She would like a “Residents Excepted” sign to be added to the no turn signs.

Ms Reid goes on to say, “when I finally get back to my home on a Monday morning I can find three cars in my driveway because they have had to pull in to let the garbage truck pass.

“And this is a single-track, unsealed road with ditches at the side and with children and dogs walking on the roadway.

“We have to pay to have this road graded now four times a year”.

Because of these problems Mathew Deayton, Manager, Infrastructure at Nillumbik Council has written to residents of Dingley Dell Road seeking their views on a proposal that the street be closed off completely to through traffic.

The plan involves installing a permanent obstruction at the top of Dingley Dell Road.

This would prevent all traffic — including Dingley Dell residents — from turning into Dingley Dell Road from Blooms Road.

Provision would be made for emergency service vehicles and waste collection vehicles.

The opinion of residents is being sought before any decision is made.

Ms Reid tells us that the idea is well-intentioned but as proposed is completely impractical.

As a number of the homes in the street have no provision for cars to turn around on the property, and angled driveways prevent a U-turn on entry and exit, this idea would require cars to reverse a long way down the difficult hill before they would be able to turn.

Affected residents have until April 20 to fill in a questionnaire or make a submission to council.

April 2018

If you would like to download your copy of the April 2018 Warrandyte Diary click here

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.

Council greenlights bridgeworks

AUGUST HAS been a busy month with regards to the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade project.

On August 29, Manningham Council discussed and passed a motion to grant a conditional planning permit to Abzeco Pty Ltd on behalf of VicRoads for the roadworks associated with the bridge upgrade on the Manningham side of the river.

Approval granted

Cr McLeish made amendments to the original motion to include details around the use of local stone and for a “safe crossing point” where the bridge meets the roundabout.

This alternate motion was carried by the Council, which effectively means once VicRoads produce the required amendments, they will have their permit.

The ammended motion comes after Council, VicRoads and the objectors met in a Submitters meeting.

At the meeting, a number of proposed changes were put forward.

The Diary asked the WCA for comment on Manningham’s decision, Mr Gillan, on behalf of the WCA told the Diary they were happy with the addition of the pedestrian crossing but “disappointed the other conditions were not adopted”.

Reports that bridgeworks would start in late October sparked conversation in the community last week.

With the bridge project always earmarked for completion “before the next fire season”, the prospect of major roadworks during the region’s most dangerous time of year is unsettling.

This news conflicts with comment from Manningham councillors who stated they were told works would be delayed until after the fire season, the Diary spoke with Manningham Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert.

“With any upgrade there is always going to be disruption, we are in one of the top 10 places in the world for fire hazard — traffic is lighter over school holidays but we have this factor of bushfire,” she said.

Manningham council also stressed that this is a VicRoads project and legal responsibility for safeguarding their workers and the community lies with them.

Once construction commences, the roadworks will include:

  • Road space to accommodate the three traffic lanes on the bridge (one northbound and two southbound).
  • Pedestrian footpath widening to accommodate the three-metre-wide path on the east/downstream side of the bridge and the 1.8metre wide path on the west/upstream side of the bridge.
  • A dedicated left turn lane onto the bridge going northbound.
  • Guard rails for traffic and pedestrians.
  • New retaining walls.
  • The removal of five native trees/shrubs.

On the Nillumbik side, there were six objections to the planning application for roadworks and vegetation removal on the north side of the river, Nillumbik’s planning officer is currently talking to Melbourne Water about the application and the Diary is led to believe a decision will be made very soon.

As we go to print, we have also learned Nillumbik Shire CEO Mark Stoermer has written to VicRoads relaying concerns that the “Warrandyte Bridge serves as a critical, single access point for both the local community and emergency services during emergency events, particularly during the bushfire season”.

Nillumbik Council also told the Diary:

Council is waiting on a response from VicRoads confirming that the bridgeworks will not affect emergency responses to and from the area.

That VicRoads will provide an outline of the measures proposed during days of elevated fire risk.

And a communication plan informing residents of any possible closures so residents can make informed decisions about their safety.

Council expects a response from VicRoads by mid-September.

The Diary have pressed VicRoads for comment regarding bridgeworks over the summer, as we go to print, we are still awaiting comment.

The deliberation

When considering the application, Manningham council reported the key issues in this application are environment impact, landscape impact and heritage consideration.

A number of environmental (ESO 2 and ESO 3) and heritage overlays at the site for the bridgeworks mean a planning permit is required for the roadworks associated with the bridge upgrade and as such, a number of conditions need to be met if the planning application is to be approved.

The report indicates the removal of the five trees has resulted in the recommendation that 92 plants must be planted to offset the loss of the trees, this means 14 canopy trees and 78 indigenous trees, shrubs, climbers or grasses all of which must be indigenous to Manningham and will be located within the “Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority Boundary or Manningham City Council municipal district”.

The report also suggests the addition of an aerial wildlife movement pathway is also condition for approval.

The Council’s heritage advisor is quoted in the report as saying:

“This application has been assessed in relation to the impact of the proposed development on the precinct as a whole.

“Given the extensive nature of the precinct and the amount of mature vegetation that exists within it, it is not anticipated that the proposed works will impact on the distinctive landscape character of the precinct. 

“It is also noted that there is potential for the proposed works to contribute to the appreciation of heritage values associated with the area by reducing traffic congestion at this key intersection, and by increasing potential for use and enjoyment of the area by pedestrians and cyclists”.

The department of City Strategy (Open Space) asked the plans to address the following elements:

  • The new roads and kerbs need to match existing stonework projects within Warrandyte and conform to the township’s heritage guidelines.
  • A new footpath between Yarra Street and the river on the Western side of the bridge.
  • Signage to help pedestrians identify the pedestrian crossing point on either side of the roundabout or to give them the option to walk under the bridge, along the river.

The Council report also noted there is an amendment in place to minimise any modifications to the existing bus stops around the Bridge intersection (eastbound at the toilet block and westbound in front of the War Memorial) but there is a provision for a semi-mountable kerb opposite 217 Yarra Street (approximately located above the Lions Club tennis courts) for a bus parking area.

With the bus parking area and the new northbound slip-lane, the number of parking bays between the lolly shop and the bridge are likely to be significantly reduced.

The Council report noted there were 10 objectors to the Manningham application, these objectors were made up of two local groups and eight private objectors.

Their objections centred around environmental and natural impact relating to the removal of the trees, the aesthetic and heritage impact of the bridge, the disruption during construction and the threat of increased traffic flow once the upgrade is complete.

On Thursday August 24, VicRoads, Manningham Council and the 10 objectors held a Submitters meeting at Manningham Council offices where the objectors were able to voice their concerns and discuss their objection to the planning application.

Following this meeting, Kyle Gillan, representing the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), invited a few of the objectors along to a meeting with the Diary to discuss their objections to the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade project.

The Diary asked the group about the Submitters meeting on August 24; Mr Gillan began with a summary of what the WCA had taken to the meeting, in reaction to the council officer’s report.

“The submission the WCA made was asking for four additional conditions to be imposed on the permit,” he said.

The WCA’s additional conditions were:

  • The retention of the pedestrian crossing between the bridge and the roundabout.
  • Yarra Street is not to be widened to accommodate the northbound slip lane.
  • Crash barriers redesigned or removed because they are an “eyesore” and “not consistent with the heritage overlay”.
  • The use of natural stone (similar to stone used in the recent footpath works east of the bridge) on all paths, abutments and retaining walls.

Mr Gillan later clarified the objectors at the Submitters meeting wanted this crossing changed from a pedestrian refuge to a zebra crossing.

“At the moment there is a pedestrian refuge so what everyone’s asking for is a zebra crossing which gives pedestrians priority and legal protection, so if they are on that they are protected”.

“A lot of the councillors, particularly Cr Sophy Galbally of Mullum Mullum ward was very concerned about pedestrian safety as she herself has mobility issues.

“The VicRoads plan will be quite bad for people with mobility issues or for children who are catching the bus,” said Mr Gillan.

Other objectors to the Manningham planning application expressed their concern about the cultural and environmental impact of the works.

Pamela Hipwell is worried about the future of the stonework underneath the War Memorial.

Her concern lies in the non-existence of any statement which suggests the stonework around the War Memorial will be protected at all cost.

“They were built by sustenance workers in the 1930s depression and they are of unique historic and aesthetic value and they link up with the War Memorial and that is very very precious to Warrandyte.

“What I am concerned about is that will chip away, they’ve got their slip lanes and then they will be gouging out more because Yarra Street won’t cope with the extra traffic flow and they’ll want more,” she said.

All the way through the extensive discussion the Diary had with the objectors, concerns over protecting the township’s heritage and the environment were at the core of their arguments, but there was also genuine concern that the bridgeworks will do nothing to alleviate the peak-time traffic congestion.

Theresa Dawson and Jeremy Loftus-Hills, who are also on the Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP), expressed doubts as to the benefits the bridge upgrade will have.

“My first and major concern was once they widen the bridge and then there is no room — yes the traffic, for a split second over the bridge, will move faster but then it is going to come to a dead halt on either side of the bridge,” said Ms Dawson.

Mr Loftus-Hills objects to the current plan in its entirety and says it has been stunted by Government budget constraints.

“We are better off without it… my objection is to the design that’s been built into the bridge has been lowering the performance of the existing bridge,” he said.

Mr Loftus-Hills later explained why he thinks the bridge is constrained by budget.

“If you read the feedback they gave us in November last year, they say they cannot do that for economic reasons and for environmental reasons but …the last FOI response I got from them said they hadn’t done any costings, there is no paperwork to show you, that’s now before the commissioner,” he said.

The Manningham Council report contains a response to objections about funding for this project.

The report states the bridge offers “significant community benefits” and states the “extensive consultation” which has occurred over the past three years “cannot be revisited under the planning assessment”.

The key issue around the bridge upgrade is the comment by Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, who identified the Yarra crossing in Warrandyte as a real weakness for traffic flow, in both everyday congestion and in emergency evacuation during bushfire.

During the interview with the Diary, objectors raised concern this context to the bridge upgrade was muddying the CFA’s “leave early” message.

The Diary put this concern to Warrandyte CFA Captain, Adrian Mullens.

“Potentially yeah, the hardest part is to get into people’s heads that they have to leave early,” he said.

Captain Mullens went on to say the high turnover of population in Warrandyte and that there have been no significant fires in Warrandyte since 2014 has led to a state of complacency in the community.

The take-out from this is that the bridge’s effectiveness during emergency evacuation is indeed an important aspect of the upgrade project and an aspect which should be put under heavy critical analysis.

However, awareness of the risks of bushfire and the message of “leave early” is something that, as a community, we need to be proactive about.

Time to come together

It is becoming clear the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade will eventually happen, the government feels it has invested a lot of money into this project and VicRoads will not want to be seen backing down on this issue, especially with the link between the bridge widening and the threat of bushfire.

Objections to the bridge project centre on protecting heritage and environmental overlays, as well as defending the “independent township” culture of our suburb.

An idea that has been fought for by long term residents for many decades and it is these same residents who now argue the point of the fight is to maintain the identity, as it is, for future generations.

“From the very start I said ‘don’t let this happen because it is not about what happens today, it is about where it will go in the future’, so you have to look outside of here to fix the problem and that’s what everyone has to get on board with, it’s leave us alone and we have to push them to move outside the area — do the Ring Road,” said Ms Dawson.

Mr Gillan added: “It’s not the residents of Warrandyte that are causing this, it’s the growth in the sprawling suburbs of Melbourne, the northern growth corridor.

“That’s why we have the heritage overlay, that’s why we have the Green Wedge protected by the Environment act and those things have to be respected,” he said.

The conversations the Diary has had with different sides of the bridge debate and the type of conversation seen on Social Media would suggest there is a growing divide between the residents who have been in the Township for 20,30,40 years and those who have not.

Warrandyte has fought hard to maintain an aesthetic and amenity which makes Warrandyte the lovely place it is but the suburbs around the Green Wedge and along the northern growth corridors are pushing more cars and more people through Warrandyte and the surrounding area.

The Warrandyte Bridge upgrade debate illustrates the clash between maintaining our village-like heritage and functioning as a suburb of a growing Melbourne.

To have the qualities that define Warrandyte as a special place and accessibility to modern infrastructure is always going to be a difficult balance, but this is a special place and we are a determined community.

With some intelligent conversation and some empathy towards other people’s views we can have the best of both worlds.