Without any consultation since March 2020 and under the cover of the COVID-19 lockdown Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) has been finalising the design and preparing to build a massively overdesigned signalised intersection at this site.
Advice from MRPV (on 6/11/2020) is that “design refinement” is almost complete and that construction may begin in early 2021.
There are many reasons for Nillumbik Council and the Eltham community to be concerned about the proposal and the process.
- Consultation between MRPV and community was terminated in March – leaving promises of data requests and comparison of options unfulfilled;
- A petition objecting to the proposal was signed by more than 3000 residents and presented to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure;
- The proposal is massively overdesigned;
- The proposal will forever change the treed gateway to our community – creating a major heat island at the entrance to our community and Eltham Lower Park;
- The proposal fails to resolve safety and access issues at the entrance to the Park;
- Construction will unnecessarily disrupt traffic for as much as 9 months; and
- The proposal apparently ignores the fact that after completion of the North East Link, traffic flows on Fitzsimons Lane are forecast to drop by as much as 20% (let alone the aftereffects of the COVID-19 emergency leading to increased working from home and decreased immigration into the state).
We agree that some improvements are needed at the roundabout.
We have engaged a traffic engineering expert to undertake traffic modelling and prepare design plans.
In consultation with him, we have developed and modelled (using the SIDRA software that MRPV also uses) a roundabout solution that works well for the expected future traffic volumes and
- has lower land requirements and takes fewer trees
- is much cheaper
- can be constructed with less traffic disruption
- caters for pedestrians and cyclists
- allows for landscaping in the medians to preserve the Eltham character.
The plans below show the comparison of our design with MRPV’s.
The current MRPV proposal is larger than most intersections in Melbourne!!
It has the following dimensions:
- 9 lane cross section on the Fitzsimons Lane approach
- 8 lane cross section on the Main Road Eltham approach
- 8 lane cross section on the Main Road Lower Plenty approach
- An area of bitumen and concrete larger than the MCG! And also is significantly larger than the new Yan Yean/Diamond Creek Road intersection
MRPV’s Reference design is an “overdesign” that is unnecessary and out of character with the local area.
The two key traffic elements of our alternative design include:
- A free flowing “slip-lane” from Eltham to Fitzsimons Lane so that this traffic doesn’t have to give way to roundabout traffic, resulting in a redesigned 2 lane roundabout which caters for the remaining traffic
- Two separate dedicated lanes for the left turn from Fitzsimons Lane towards Lower Plenty which solves the weaving issue for traffic heading to Bolton Street.
MRPV agreed (at our last meeting) that our “slip-lane” solution works as well as their huge intersection solution for traffic heading towards Fitzsimons Lane.
BUT – since our last consultation meeting in March 2020, MRPV have refused to provide information to us that was agreed to in that meeting – for example, traffic counts!!
Despite the lack of information we have continued to refine our design proposal based on improving the earlier design work and reinterpreting the associated traffic counts.
We have appealed to Nillumbik councillors to seek an urgent update of the proposal before it is too late and hope that Council will be able to take action to preserve the ambience of our iconic green and treed entrance to Eltham and the Green Wedge. This would be greatly appreciated by the community.
Time is a major problem as a contract is to be signed very soon.
If you would like to retain the Eltham Gateway we suggest you urgently contact who you can and however you can !! : politicians, councillors, council, the media – as a starting point you might consider