Bypass gets backing

A survey has revealed more than 80 per cent of Traralgon and broader Gippsland residents, retail traders, business operators and transport industry representatives support the construction of a Traralgon bypass.

The survey formed part of the Committee for Gippsland’s Let’s Get Gippsland Moving Build the Traralgon Bypass project, the findings of which were released on Monday.

The project was launched late last month and was followed by a $1.4 million commitment from state government to develop a business case for a Traralgon bypass.

The Committee for Gippsland survey found of 97 respondents, 79 said they supported a bypass for Traralgon, 16 did not support the bypass and two did not answer the question.

Committee for Gippsland chief executive Mary Aldred said support for the bypass was stronger than anticipated.

“At a local level, we’ve had some terrific feedback from residents who say they are just sick of the congestion, particularly at school time, business peak hour, getting in and around Traralgon is a real nightmare at different times of the day,” Ms Aldred said.

“So, for those reasons, local residents would like to see a Traralgon bypass from a safety and amenity perspective.”

She said the research project had also examined the impacts of other bypasses on other regions.

“We’ve looked at other regions, the Pakenham bypass for example, and the cost benefit there, taking out 11 roundabouts, six continuous sets of traffic lights,” Ms Aldred said.

“Likewise in Shepparton, we’ve been talking to local business in that region and they can all clearly see benefits of building bypasses in their towns.”

The report identified a number of concerns put forward by people supportive of the bypass and also those who didn’t, including fears about loss of trade to local businesses.

“We definitely asked that question and engaged really strongly with businesses…but yes, there were some respondents that did raise those as concerns and so that is why we fed that through to our set of recommendations,” Ms Aldred said.

Other constructive concerns raised by respondents centred around the importance of information about rest stops and driver fatigue on the bypass and the importance of placing signage of the freeway to promote local attractions.

She said the project report made five recommendations which she would send to State Roads Minister Luke Donellan.

“We’re a freight-driven region in Gippsland and we need a competitive and efficient freight network, so it is very important that that feedback gets encapsulated in that business case,” Ms Aldred said.

Coffee Corner owner Jim Lamb said studies had shown that bigger towns benefit when they are bypassed.

“It’s because it is easier to travel within the town,” Mr Lamb said.

“A lot of business actually happens within the town, so for service stations and takeaway food, it probably won’t have much of an impact.

“We don’t expect to have any impact on our sales at all because locals will be able to get here more easily.”

Traralgon businessman and resident Mark Answerth said the bypass was long overdue.

“The congestion in Traralgon from a traffic point of view has been out of control for a number of years,” Mr Answerth said.

“Not only that, it helps with safety aspects and convenience point of view… so if takes some of that congestion out of town, it will be good for everyone to get around.”