Toora highway crossing a good idea but is a bad design

A PEDESTRIAN crossing over the South Gippsland Highway at Toora is “a good idea”, according to Toora Returned Service League (RSL) president Rod Coughran-Lane.

However, the design and layout of the newly-installed crossing itself, which directs people through the garden surrounding the Toora community’s Cenotaph memorial and over its white-pebbled paths, is bad in Mr Coughran-Lane’s view.

“I have no objection whatsoever to the crossing; I think it’s a really good idea,” he said.

“But I do have a strong objection to channelling the foot traffic through the Cenotaph’s forecourt instead of around it at a respectful distance.

“You can still see where the path for the crossing was going to go marked out in white on the lawn between the highway and the service road east of the whole Cenotaph garden,” Mr Coughran-Lane said.

“Apparently the Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) design engineer later thought the lawn was too steep for the path and so the plans were changed to take the path into the Cenotaph garden,” he said.

“The amended design meant that perhaps four metres of a Cenotaph garden bed with native shrubs has now been removed and replaced with a concrete footpath, and all with very little consultation with the community and none with the Toora RSL!”

Mr Coughran-Lane said he contacted both the RRV and the South Gippsland Shire to find out what he could about the crossing’s design and why the shire was building an RRV job that was funded by the Federal Government.

“I was told the shire had had no real input into the design though I heard from the RRV that there was some sort of link between the shire and the RRV in regard to the project,” he said.

“The end result is that the Toora Cenotaph has become a public thoroughfare, which completely detracts from its role as a place of remembrance and reflection.”

Mr Coughran-Lane said the crossing “could have been done so much better, and I am upset about the lack of consultation.

“The designer hasn’t taken the purpose of the Cenotaph into consideration, and the new concrete path runs into the Cenotaph’s pebbled paths, which aren’t really suitable for people with disabilities.

“As well, the new crossing’s central islands in the middle of the highway have narrowed the turning lane into Stanley Street,” he said.

“The concrete path could have taken a gentle zig-zag route to cope with the slope of the lawn beside the Cenotaph garden instead. 

“An RRV spokesman contacted me and said the removal of the Cenotaph garden bed was ‘regretted’”, Mr Coughran-Lane said.“The crossing is in now, though, and all we can do from now on is to request authorities to please ask local communities about projects like this one, before they go ahead.