MUCH of the investment of $5.12 million in the Heavy Vehicle Bypass of Leongatha could be wasted unless they add another set of traffic lights at the Roughead Street end of the project.
That’s the view of several prominent local livestock transport operators who believe trucks, especially B Doubles, could be forced to use Bair Street, or worse, drive past four schools down Ogilvy Street and Horn Street to avoid a near-impossible crossing of Roughead Street, turning right from Long Street.
New president of the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria, Mick Debenham, a Kardella transport operator, put his finger on the problem last Thursday.
“The problem is there’s no traffic lights at the intersection of Long Street and Roughead Street and going through from the Koonwarra side is going to be especially difficult for trucks,” said Mick, on site last week with another transport operator, Stuart Storr of Toora, and several Vicroads’ officials.
“It’s an uphill start from there and if you stop, you’ve got to wait for a break in the traffic and start off in low gear.
“At busy times, like school bus time and other times, you’ll have to wait for a break in the traffic or else come out and force the traffic to stop because you’re going to be going very slowly to start with.
“I can see serious problems there without traffic lights.
“They say they haven’t got the money for traffic lights but it could get to the point where the trucks avoid it and go back into Bair Street, or detour down Ogilvy Street and Horn Street, past four schools.
“They’ve simply got to find the money for the traffic lights or it’s not going to work.”
Mr Debenham was, however, complimentary of what Vicroads has been able to achieve.
“Geoff Owen (South Gippsland Road Safety Group) and I met with Vicroads last year about the design and they’ve been able to make some improvements,” he said, including with the height of the highway.
“As you saw there the other day, the B Doubles will go through there. It’s tight but it’s OK. The main problem is getting through Roughead Street from Long Street. Lights are a must.
“They’re just going to have to find the money,” he said.
Looking on and talking with the transport operators last week while one of Storr Transports big B Doubles went through was project team leader Peter Newitt with Murray Kent and Ben Kennedy, also of Vicroads.
The cattle truck easily negotiated the right turn into Long Street, travelling north down Roughead Street (from the rail crossing end), but the right turn into Roughead Street, out of Long Street, was a problem with the truck crossing the line at Hughes Street and swinging close to the gutter.
A Vicroads’ spokesman later made the following statement:
“The Leongatha Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route is a priority project for South Gippsland that will provide increased safety, amenity and economic benefits to Leongatha by removing approximately 600 heavy vehicles a day from the CBD.
“It will support South Gippsland Shire Council’s Bair Street Rejuvenation Project, which aims to create a more vibrant and prosperous commercial and retail precinct.
“The $5.12 million project will allow Council to start works that will improve parking opportunities, pedestrian safety, access to the shopping precinct and beautification of the CBD.
“It has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders including council, the community and the freight industry, with the project designed to meet industry standards.
“The movement of heavy vehicles including B-doubles has been observed negotiating all intersections of the alternate route without incident.
“The Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route is on track to be completed by the end of the year.”
Truck trouble at ’Gatha bypass