A TRUCK route or highway bypass will be absent from plans for Colac’s future, despite community concerns about trucks travelling through the city’s centre.
Colac Otway Shire Council chief Sue Wilkinson said the council had “no authority” to plan for a Colac bypass and VicRoads had “no money and no plans” for a truck route or bypass, but the council needed to move forward with strategic planning.
“VicRoads is the authority responsible for the planning of the current and future needs of the arterial road network including any bypass planning in Victoria,” Ms Wilkinson said.
“VicRoads has confirmed that they have no current plans to investigate the potential for a bypass of Colac, or to proceed with bypass planning for Colac, or the available budget.
“Early indications are that it would cost approximately $10 million just to plan for a bypass.”
But shire councillors have continued to debate the need for a bypass or alternative truck route since the council investigated possible truck-route options in 2012.
Councillors Michael Delahunty and Chris Smith voiced concerns again at last week’s council meeting about the council’s Colac 2050 Project which plans for a projected population of 20,000 by 2050.
Cr Smith said the plan was a “total waste of time because it’s without the major part of infrastructure”.
But Cr Brian Crook said planning for Colac’s future was important and it would be unfair on the community if the council waited for VicRoads to consider a bypass which might never happen.
Cr Crook said the council had been through the process of drawing lines where an alternative route could go but VicRoads told the council it had no authority and the issue was “dead, buried and cremated”.
Cr Delahunty said the “only thing that’s dead and buried is the councillors’ heads in the sand” and “everybody” was talking about trucks going through the middle of Colac.
“That’s what you’re committing the community to; without good planning we’re going to end up in a mess,” he said.
Cr Terry Woodcroft said he sympathised with what councillors Delahunty and Smith were trying to say but he supported councillor Lyn Russell’s comment that the council “can’t stymie development because of the route”.
Cr Woodcroft said the council had already poured resources into “fighting a losing battle”.
Cr Frank Buchanan agreed and said the council’s attempt to plan for an alternative route in 2012 created uncertainty.
“No one wanted it in their back yard and we can’t go down that route again,” Cr Buchanan said.
But Ms Wilkinson said VicRoads had made it clear the council was unable to consider a bypass because it had no authority “to plan for bypass routes”.
“Council is responsible for land use planning and accommodating population growth within Colac,” she said.
“The scope of Colac 2050 is to strategically plan for the future of Colac, with an estimated projected population of 20,000, based on the best information we have available.
“The work will not include any planning for a bypass and this is not in the scope of the project.
“It is inappropriate for Colac Otway Shire Council to consider future routes for a bypass as part of the Colac 2050 project because local government is not responsible for bypass planning; VicRoads supports this position,” Ms Wilkinson said.
“If the State Government decides in the future that a bypass of Colac is required, VicRoads is committed to working with the council and the community to determine the most appropriate route.”