Bypass ‘last thing’ Traralgon needs

A reignited push for a Traralgon highway bypass has been met with stiff opposition from the Traralgon Chamber of Commerce, which fears an alternate route would cripple business flows to the town’s central business district.

The kickback comes after Committee for Gippsland last month included a Traralgon bypass among a list of funding priorities to the Victorian Treasurer, pitched to improve the transport times for road freight from Gippsland to Melbourne markets.

However, Traralgon Chamber of Commerce president Darren Howe said a bypass was the last thing the town’s retailers needed, “particularly in a very tough economic environment”.

“Business such as (but not limited to) service stations, motels, takeaway food will all suffer if the town is bypassed,” Mr Howe said.

“However, it is not just the businesses that will notice the pain of a town bypass.

“When businesses notice the downturn, their ability to assist their community will also be reduced, and therefore the whole community will suffer.”

Mr Howe criticised Committee for Gippsland for not consulting the Chamber of Commerce before making the budget lobbying pitch.

“How can an organisation claim to be representing the business groups of Gippsland when they do not even consult with the group representing businesses that will be most affected?” he said.

While implementation of the Traralgon bypass has been set aside as a short-term prospect, development of a full bypass remains a long-term initiative.

The most recent bypass route proposal approved by Latrobe City Council in recent years begins at the railway overpass east of Morwell, running parallel to the railway line on the southern side, before skirting around residential boundaries in Traralgon’s south.

In response, Committee for Gippsland chief executive Mary Aldred said direct feedback had been taken from the transport industry in forming the lobbying pitch.

“The study was about ensuring manufacturers and food producers gained competitive access to market and (we are) not hamstrung by traffic delays in Traralgon,” Ms Aldred said.