GISBORNE’S Melbourne Road and Kilmore Road intersection upgrade is underway, with Regional Roads Victoria deciding to demolish a historic bridge in order to complete the works.
As part of the upgrade, a roundabout will be constructed and the historic Bunjil Creek Bridge will be replaced with a wider bridge to provide enough space for traffic lanes and shared-user paths. Improved street lighting will also be installed.
Macedon Ranges Mayor Jennifer Anderson said council and the community were disappointed to learn their efforts to save the 148-year-old bridge had been refused.
“While council understands the importance of improving our shire’s key intersections and bridges, and investments by the Victorian Government to support this, we strongly felt this did not need to come at the expense of the protecting a significant heritage structure,” she said.
“Once our heritage assets are removed, no plaque can adequately demonstrate their historical relevance, heritage importance, nor the artisanship to build these reminders of our past. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”
Engineers from Regional Roads Victoria, RRV, explored options to retain the existing bridge over Bunjil Creek, however it was determined the bridge needed to be wider in order to accommodate the planned upgrades.
There were no heritage protections in place for the bridge, it was not listed on any heritage registers and did not meet thresholds for inclusions in the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme Heritage Overlay in previous amendments.
RRV regional director Melanie Hotton said there had been significant consultation with council through the project’s development.
“We’ve been very transparent with Macedon Ranges Shire Council, over the past three years, around the plans and timing for safety upgrades at this busy intersection,” she said.
“There was a vast amount of work completed to try and retain the Bunjil Creek Bridge’s bluestone foundations.
“Unfortunately, after extensive investigation, we found it wasn’t possible to retain the foundations due to the flood risk posed to nearby properties by the structure.”
A specialist stonemason was contracted to carefully dismantle the existing foundations, with extra care taken to not damage the bluestone blocks. New foundations will be put in place with planning undertaken to minimise flood risk.
The recovered bluestone blocks will be re-used on the new bridge and any remaining salvaged bluestone will be used for paving at the new traffic islands and roundabout.
For more information on the upgrade, visit regionalroads.vic.gov.au/map/loddon-mallee-improvements/melbourne-road-and-kilmore-road-intersection-upgrade.