Highway bypass left out of plans for Colac

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.”

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2 Responses to “Highway bypass left out of plans for Colac”

  1. Reality Check

    Colac Otway Shire has the responsibility for the good governance and future planning of our city and Shire. Clearly the shire does not have the resources to plan or build for a bypass, but it does have the capacity to identify the issues and to provide feed back to Vicroads and the Government. The council has the capacity to advocate and lobby for the best outcomes for its rate payers. The Shire has actively advocated for a dual highway, which was a success, and more train services and other State Government issues, which are still a work in progress. The Colac CBD, will not function and prosper into the future without a creative approach to how the traffic can be managed in the future. More can be done, and the council with its head in the sand is of no use to anyone!!

  2. Paul David Cross

    This article raises the question: If the Council has no authority to plan for a bypass then why did the Council waste time and money on proposals relating to this very issue?

    The fact is that what must be one of the slowest road builds in history the duplication from Geelong to Winchelsea is still not completed and people are forced to slow down and drive through Winchelsea because it was not bypassed, yet Bacchus Marsh, Werribee and even Geelong were.

    The truth is that the Councils are an arm of the State government, a State government Organosation and as such will do as the State government wishes as Local government is not recognised as a third tier of government and if the Councillors step out of line they will be replaced by administration.

    The Colac Otway Shire Council have obviously wasted time and money on their bypass efforts in the past and should have been informed about Vic Roads having Authority over them.

    Meanwhile we know our Council threw a Public Library in to a School which the overwhelming majority of rate payers did not want but now see their rate money given to the Colac Secondary College to pay half of all ongoing costs of the building, insurance, maintenance, power costs etc whilst the Council bought the most expensive Council car park in the region paying $900,000 for the old Home Hardware building.

    There are well meaning Councillors but the truth is they have little power and are used as a patsy for the State government to accept blame when unpopular State government policies and projects are pushed on them and they must accept responsibility for the outcome, and as previously stated if they jack up and all vote no administration can be brought in to get the job done.

    Almost all the rate money from Colac Otway Shire residents is spent on wages, there is almost nothing left for projects but the Council always seem to find money for themselves throwing the public Library in to a School in order to use the old Library as their planning Dept, purchasing the old Home Hardware building for their own use for instance.

    At least we now know who is really in charge of the roads, Vic Roads not the Council.