Mitchell Shire Council is calling on election candidates to urgently commit funding towards the $80 million Wallan freeway interchange and Watson Street upgrade.
The call comes as a result of VCAT’s decision to approve a major clay quarry at 2330 Epping-Kilmore Road in Wallan earlier this month.
The Austral Bricks quarry will supply the majority of Melbourne’s building industry and, as a result of this, will see many more trucks using roads that are already congested and continuing to experience rapid growth.
Mitchell Shire Mayor Councillor Rhonda Sanderson said a commitment from the Victorian Government is urgently needed so that Federal funding can be secured to deliver the road upgrades before the quarry opens.
“People are already experiencing significant delays and safety risks as they try to go about their daily lives,” Cr Sanderson said.
“Our community is already having trouble getting to work, to child care, to school, to the local shops and to sportsgrounds.
“VicRoads has completed most of planning work and this major infrastructure project is ready to progress to the next stage. We need it bought forward now so this vital piece of work is completed before the quarry opens.”
Cr Sanderson said current and future growth means there is no extra capacity on our road network.
“We’ve already experienced significant growth in and around Wallan which is putting pressure on our road network and causing safety concerns,” she said.
“With our population in Wallan growing from 11,500 in 2011 to approximately 14,000 in 2018 and plans to hit 50,000 around Wallan in the future, the road network can’t absorb the extra traffic this quarry will create.
“We now need the freeway interchange and the duplication of Watson Street to maintain our liveability as people go about their lives, to support the viability of our local shopping centres and to ensure our community is well connected.”
Cr Sanderson said she didn’t want to see problems being experienced in other growth areas replicated here because of the quarry.
“We’ve seen what can happen in other areas when this infrastructure isn’t provided until it’s too late. We have an opportunity to avoid that mistake here,” she said.
“Our local members of Parliament secured funding for a business case and associated planning work which is now complete. The next stage now needs to be brought forward as a priority, so we can pursue Federal funding ahead of the Federal election.
“The acceleration of this project is absolutely critical and will be our number one priority for the Victorian and Federal election.”