Detour on a long and winding road

A DEFERRAL on a funding decision for a bicycle path connecting Traralgon and Morwell has been labelled “frustrating and disgusting” by Traralgon and Morwell Pedallers president Vance Marcollo.

After more than two decades of TRAMPS lobbying and six years since a $60,000 feasibility study was announced by Member for Morwell Russell Northe, Latrobe City Council lodged a grant application for the project under the Vic Roads Safer Cyclists and Pedestrians fund in May this year.

Northe tabled a question in State Parliament and lodged a formal letter about the timeframe for a funding announcement but has received no firm commitment to date.

Roads and Road Safety Minister Luke Donnellan responded stating all projects under the Safer Cyclists and Pedestrians fund would be considered and announcements made by the end of 2016.

The concept has been on the agenda since TRAMPS formed in 1994 and the group’s patience is wearing thin.

“It’s pretty frustrating and annoying… any funding will be announced at the end of the year, that’s disgraceful seeing as it’s been considered for such a long time,” Marcollo said.

“There’s a big question of safety. We need to get the bicycles off heavy traffic roads as much as possible and a shared pathway or bike track between the two major cities is absolutely necessary.

“A friend of mine, who had an encounter with a vehicle up there, said ‘does someone have to be killed before something is done?’

“There are quite a few accidents involving cars and bicycles because the facilities aren’t there.”

Council’s proposed route would extend the existing Kay Street pathway to Old Melbourne Road, turning south between Airfield and Alexander roads into the plantations before taking a 90 degree bend west to link up with Crinigan Road in Morwell.

Marcollo said its separation from vehicle traffic would suit families and commuters alike and believed it would attract hearty thoroughfare.

“As soon as it’s built I’m certain it will be very heavily used. Other bike tracks, like the recently finished Gippsland Plains Rail Trail, are used and I would expect a shared pathway between Traralgon and Morwell would be used 100 times more,” he said.

“All other localities seem to have shared pathways and bike tracks associated with them and around them and this city has ideal distances for cycling but we have nothing.”

Having first announced the $60,000 feasibility study funding prior to his election in 2010, Northe said he would continue to fight for the project.

Northe met with TRAMPS riders earlier this year to rally behind the cause and said he still stood firmly behind it.

“Our local community has long advocated for increased bike path networks and the concept of the shared pathway has been discussed for many years,” Northe said.

“A shared pathway will not only provide improved health benefits to local residents, but increase local tourism opportunities and provide safe pathways for recreational cyclists in our community.

“I will continue to advocate to the government on behalf of our local community for the development of the Traralgon-Morwell shared pathway and ensure the current State Government sees this as a key priority for our region.

“It has been a long and frustrating time but we will not give up the fight.”