VICROADS and the state government have been accused of steamrolling a road through wetlands by sidestepping meaningful public consultation.
Residents Against Mordialloc Freeway (RAMF) has organised a public meeting to highlight the deficiencies its members see in planning for the proposed Mordialloc bypass. The meeting is on the eve of an Environmental Effects Statement consultation period for the project instigated by Planning Minister Richard Wynne.
Members of the group oppose the proposed Mordialloc bypass linking the northern end of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway with Dingley, citing its “major social, environmental and cultural impacts” as reasons for their stand.
The group believes there’s insufficient data on the project, there are better, more cost-effective alternatives, and that the road will not ease local traffic congestion.
Members have dropped leaflets in letterboxes at Dingley and The Waterways estate to publicise the meeting; representatives of Friends of the Earth and Sustainable Cities are also expected to attend.
Mr Wynne in September ruled that the environment statement was required to “enable a transparent and rigorous process for consideration of potentially significant adverse effects of the project to inform relevant statutory decision-making”.
The proposed Mordialloc Bypass will connect the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Springvale Rd to the Dingley Bypass. The nine-kilometre divided arterial road will have bridges over wetlands, four signal intersections, grade-separated interchange at Springvale Rd and a cycling and walking path.
A two-lane carriageway will connect the bypass between Boundary and Tootal roads with the northern end of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Springvale Rd.
The road will cross the Dingley Bypass and Centre Dandenong, Lower Dandenong and Governor roads, which will be signalised, while a grade-separated full-diamond interchange will be built at the Mornington Peninsula Freeway/Springvale Rd intersection.
Old Dandenong Rd will be truncated. Bridges 400 metres long will traverse wetlands at The Waterways and Mordialloc Creek and adjacent drainage channels.
VicRoads is preparing a communication and consultation plan for the EES, outlining the opportunities and approaches for its community engagement during the preparation of the EES.
RAMF president Scott Fothergill said the Dingley meeting was “incredibly timely as residents are asking what this EES scoping consultation period is all about”.
“We want to help residents understand this process, and are partnering with other campaigns around Melbourne to bring forward incredible knowledge and perspective about Melbourne’s transportation needs on the night of the AGM. It’s going to be a real eye-opener.”
The group says it is disappointed with the EES process, so far, and the lack of detail provided. “We have attempted to contact the number provided by VicRoads to inquire on details of the EES to date,” the group’s secretary Alex Breskin said.
“It’s disappointing that the operators are unaware of the process and that we are still awaiting a reply on their latest critical push on the survey, which does not appear to be the EES scoping but something else entirely.”
The group says it is “frustrated” by VicRoads Pop Ups set up to explain the proposed works. “At one pop up at Aspendale Gardens, VicRoads failed to provide crucial details as to when the EES scoping was to begin, opting to blame other departments,” Mr Fothergill said.
“This is causing a lot of frustration and anxiety in the community.
“With only a two-minute survey to answer from VicRoads that gives residents only a small range of railroaded choices, it appears that the department is fishing for answers they want to hear to push the project ahead.
“RAMF understands that these EES processes can be complex, but recognises them as an essential part of the project that will determine the viability of the project and should not be undermined.
“Residents are calling for the relevant departments to tell them when the EES scoping will begin, and to include all residents when the time comes.
“RAMF’s job is to make sure VicRoads, the Department of Environment, Water, Lands and Planning, as well as local government and state government are held to account during this process.
“It is unfortunate that residents have been put into this corner, with the public consultation stage looking to side-step residents in favour of pushing the process along.
“VicRoads and the state government are not giving us much confidence that this public consultation stage has anything to do with hearing what the public have to say.
“It’s looking more like they are just trying to tick a few boxes on their lists toward steamrolling a road through precious wetlands that should never be built.”
Mr Fothergill said residents had been told a draft for consultation won’t be available before June.
A final version is due in November – the time of the next state election. A change of government could complicate matters, he said.
Residents Against Mordialloc Freeway will meet 7.30pm, Tuesday 6 February, at Dingley Village Neighbourhood Centre. A ‘high profile’ speaker from RMIT University will address the 50/60-member audience. The mayor Cr Steve Staikos is also expected to attend.
The Dingley Village Neighbourhood Centre is at 31B Marcus Rd, Dingley Village.