School traffic concerns

The Department of Education says it is working closely with Latrobe City Council to minimise potential traffic congestion and road safety issues at the new Morwell merged primary school.

At last Monday’s meeting council decided it would write to Education Minister James Merlino seeking involvement in proposals for the school’s on and off-street parking, drop-off points and bus stops.

Councillor Graeme Middlemiss moved the motion based on community concerns around the “anticipated congestion and road safety issues”.

“It appears the (school’s) design and traffic arrangement is poor and council needs to get involved as soon as possible,” Cr Middlemiss told the meeting.

He told council he was concerned about a lack of staff car parking, with only 20 parks provided for the school’s planned 70 staff members.

Speaking to The Express on Friday, Cr Middlemiss said he had been approached by Morwell businesses, along with parents and teachers set to attend the school next year, who had voiced concerns about drop-off arrangements and parking.

He said parking and traffic problems around the school were “ultimately” council’s responsibility.

” And I’m concerned if what I’m being told is correct we will end up with more traffic problems than the previous Morwell high school,” Cr Middlemiss said.

“I want the (education) department to sit down with the proposal on the table and see if council’s happy. If not, we want the opportunity to suggest alternatives.”

Cr Middlemiss said this was a “tweak at the edge of the project but a very important issue”.

The Department of Education and Training’s Morwell merged primary school project manager, Roger Taylor, told The Express he had been consulting with council on the project since his instatement in April and this was the first he had heard of any concerns.

“The principals from the three (merging) schools have not been made aware of any community concerns around the new Morwell primary school,” Mr Taylor said.

“We would hope to hear of any of that kind of thing.”

He said in conjunction with council’s traffic engineer, the department had begun planning for improved upgrades to manage parking and traffic concerns. This included an upgrade of a drive-through drop-off and pick-up point at the McDonald Street-Holmes Road corner of the school, complete with a bus shelter for school excursions.

Mr Taylor said daily school bus services would use the site’s already established bus stop and the reinstatement of a children’s crossing on McDonald Street was underway.

The department was also self-funding additional staff car parking to meet requirements.

“Council staff and I continue to liaise to provide optimum solutions around appropriate signage and speed limits around the new Morwell primary school,” Mr Taylor said.

“I appreciate the significant time Latrobe Council is putting into this matter. They’re doing the hard yards on our behalf and it’s appreciated.”

He encouraged any councillors or community members with concerns to contact the department.

The new school, which will result in the merger of Morwell, Tobruk Street and Commercial Road primary schools, will open for term one in 2017.