Pyrenees highway update: community group welcomes works halt

FOBIF has just received the following communique from Newstead 2021:

Community group Newstead 2021 Inc today has been informed by Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards that VicRoads’ proposed Pyrenees Highway Safety Improvements project between Newstead and Muckleford South have been postponed.

N2021 Inc submitted a petition with 532 signatures to Ms Edwards today asking the work be deferred until community concerns are addressed.

The project proposes to install wire rope safety barriers and guard fences, seal some sections of road shoulders and parts of intersections and remove roadside vegetation including 146 mature trees from Swift Parrot habitat.

Members of the Newstead community acknowledge the importance of road safety, but have been questioning the modelling, data and evaluations – economic, social and environmental – behind the project since 2016.

Newstead 2021 Inc has written to the Roads Minister, Jaala Pulford, about the project.

The group is asking that work to remove roadside trees be halted and the project commencement is deferred until community concerns are fully addressed.

These include the accuracy and reliability of environmental evaluations, traffic counts (eg. VicRoads project quotes 6400 vehicles per day. Local community counts suggest the figure is closer to 3600 per day), road crashes (eg. The project selects 2009 – 2013 data only) and modelling.

N2021 is also asking that the cost:benefit analysis and workings be shared with the community and that speed limits on this section of road are assessed in line with other reductions put in place along the Pyrenees Highway locally.

Green Gully residents are particularly concerned about safety and speed along the stretch of road and especially at their Cemetery Rd intersection where the school bus stop is located.

“Community members believe signage, road edging improvement along the entire section, line marking and changing driver behaviour would be more cost-effective to improve safety and minimise risk without removing 146 native trees,” resident Janet Barker said.

Residents are concerned about this project in light of VicRoads extensive tree removal and overengineering along the Calder Highway at Ravenswood near the Maldon/Mildura exit.

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