DAVID GELLION, Project Delivery Manager at Vic Roads, told a Public Presentation Meeting held on February 21 at South Gippsland Shire Council offices that the realignment of the South Gippsland Highway at Koonwarra was not as simple as it looks.
He was there with Vic Roads Project Director, Ray Paterson and Team Leader for Project Delivery Paul Quinlan.
“We are listening to the community,” David said. “We are also having a lot of interaction with the Council.”
Mayor Lorraine Brunt said at the end of the presentation that this project was one of Council’s success stories.
“We need to do whatever it takes to cut the road toll,” she said. “We need to be selling the story about how much work Vic Roads have done.”
Cr Alyson Skinner brought up the controversial central wire ropes to which David replied, “The fact is they save lives.”
Vic Roads Project Director, Ray Paterson said that they were bringing everyone along on the journey and wanted everyone to know that the road will remain open through the entire project.
Vic Roads have run into a few obstacles not the least being the discovery of 1000 year old Aboriginal artefacts, some fossils and the need to remove the protected Strzelecki Gum.
David Gellion summarised the Project by saying that 4000 cars used that stretch of Highway every day along with 1000 Heavy Vehicles.
There have been 16 casualty crashes (2012-2017) which is 8 times the state average.
There are 9 substandard curves with an operating speed of 65km/h meaning freight experiences delays and increased travel times.
The Project Scope is to:
- Realign 3.4km length of the South Gippsland Highway
- Construct two lane two-way road with sealed shoulders
- Bridge crossing of Tarwin River at two locations
- Upgraded intersections at Caithness Road and Minns Road
- Installation of safety barriers including centreline barrier
- Provision of street lighting at intersections
- New underpass, including lighting for the Great Southern Rail Trail
- Realignment of the Great Southern Rail Trail at second river crossing
- Landscaping and architectural works
David said that Vic Roads have a good relationship with all the following key stakeholders:
- South Gippsland Shire; Planning, Engineering and Environmental Officers
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; Flora and Fauna, Native Title and Planning Officers
- West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority
- The Great Southern Rail Trail Committee of Management
- Tarwin Valley Landcare Group
- Museum Victoria, Geological Survey of Victoria and Geological Society of Australia (Koonwarra fossil site)
- Aboriginal Victoria and local indigenous groups
Pre-Construction Activities have included:
- Biological assessments, including targeted survey of nationally significant flora and fauna species including Strzelecki Gum
- Complex cultural heritage assessment including preparation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan
- Hydrological/hydraulic assessment to determine flood levels
- Extinguishing native title on crown land
- Road and bridge design
- Geotechnical and pavement investigations
- Landscape and architectural plans
- Acquisition of private property and transfer of Crown Land
Complex assessment of Cultural Heritage commenced in July 2017 and included representatives from the Bunurong Land Council, Gunaikurnai Aboriginal Corporation and the Boonwurrung Foundation.
To date, 145 shovel test pits and 11 1mx1m test pits have been undertaken.
Stone artefacts, hearths, clay balls, railway artefacts and flaked glass have been discovered.
Carbon dating indicates use of the area by Aboriginal people at least 1,000 years ago.
The project area contains 884 nationally listed Strzelecki Gums with a further 2,307 within a 2km radius.
- The initial road design impacted 347 Strzelecki Gums, either by removal, retention zone or translocation of recruits.
- Redesign of the alignment reduced the impact to 180 Strzelecki Gums.
- Mitigation offsets proposed include: – Inclusion of no-go zones during construction – Landscaping including planting of 4,000 Strzelecki Gums – Region wide survey of Strzelecki Gum – Revegetation plan, including targeted weed spraying/removal program – Seed collection and propagation, including a research project to identify conditions required to assist natural regeneration – Support Tarwin Valley Landcare Group’s Black Spur Project and assist the Great Southern Rail Trail Committee of Management.
Vic Roads are currently awaiting on advice from the Department of Environment and Energy (DOEE) on the additional information required to enable the impact to be assessed.
Cr Ray Argento asked the all-important question. “Are we still on track?”
“We plan to have contractors on the ground in summer, later in the year,” David replied.
Tenders will close mid 2018 and the Tender will be awarded late 2018 with completion mid-2021.