TRARALGON Bypass plans are in place, but the community still waits.

The Traralgon Bypass has long been listed as an anticipated priority project, but has yet to confirm financial commitment from either state or federal governments.

The Gippsland executive director of the Department of Transport and Planning, Beth Liley said the Traralgon bypass would have to wait until the rehabilitation of the Loy Yang mine.

“We’ve conducted a planning study for the proposed Traralgon Bypass, examining its economic, environmental, social, and traffic impacts, as well as its proximity to the Loy Yang open cut mine,” she said.

“We need to evaluate the impact of the final rehabilitated form of the Loy Yang mine before we consider moving forward.”

Significant work was carried out by VicRoads in the 2000s, that included a preliminary road design for the bypass route, as well as fora, fauna, economic, land use and cultural heritage assessments.

The routing was formalised in the Latrobe Planning Scheme in 2009 before the state government announced $1.4 million for bypass planning in 2017.

Regional Roads Victoria conducted a planning study, including community feedback on the route and interchange locations.

The study investigated the economic, environmental, social and traffic impacts of the bypass.

The planning study identified key risks concerning the viability of the bypass and the future rehabilitation of the Loy Yang Mine.

The Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Study has not yet finalised mine rehabilitation options.

As stated by Ms Liley, until this work is completed, the impact of rehabilitation options on the approved bypass alignment cannot be determined.

Once these requirements are established, the Department of Transport and Planning said they will be in a better place to understand the implications for the future Traralgon bypass.

Latrobe City Council said the bypass would remove heavy vehicles and traffic from the busy town centre, improve road safety and connectivity, support economic growth, create jobs and improve Gippsland’s major transport route.

Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, recently reignited discussions on the proposed bypass when he challenged the federal government to commit funding to the project.

Mr Chester said this year’s state and federal budgets should prioritise the allocation of funds for the Traralgon bypass.

“The bypass is strongly supported by Latrobe City and Wellington Shire because it offers road safety and productivity benefits to the transport sector,” he said.

“I have written to the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King and urged her to commit funding for planning and design to keep the pressure on the state government which has ultimate responsibility for the highway.

A spokeswoman for Catherine King said they will continue working with the state government on any new project proposals, which will be factored into normal budget and business assessments.

“The Australian government has worked and will continue to work closely with all levels of government, including Victoria, to ensure we are investing and delivering nationally significant infrastructure projects to make it easier to get around our cities and suburbs and unlock the potential of our towns and regions,” the spokeswoman said.

“The Australian government is committed to delivering the infrastructure Australia needs, creating jobs and growing the economy while not increasing pressure on inflation.

“The Australian government has established the Princes Highway – Victoria corridor package, which includes $262.3 million in federal funding for 32 projects. This includes 14 projects in the Gippsland region, with the Australian government committing $123.9 million.”

Mr Chester said he was working with his State Parliamentary colleagues, including Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron to gather support for the Traralgon bypass, and would seek feedback from interested locals.

Though the project has been on the table for more than 30 years, some local residents aren’t exactly in favour of the freeway bypassing Traralgon.

In 2018, Latrobe City Council objected to the route W1C that the state government selected on the grounds that it would stunt Traralgon’s future development and growth.

The proposed route is located south of Traralgon and was selected in 2009 by Planning Minister at the time, Justin Madden, to avoid coal deposits.