Eltham Roundabout & MRPV

Many people have emailed Vicki Ward MP outlining their concerns regarding the Fitzsimons Lane roundabout removal and the destruction of our iconic treed entrance.

The standard reply they are receiving includes feedback from Major Road Projects Victoria stating that residents have been consulted and that the Eltham Community Action Group design fails to adequately address some features that are required to resolve the traffic flow issues in peak hours.

This information being presented has not been provided directly to ECAG which we find concerning.

We are also surprised at the assertions MRPV are making about our alternative proposal as it appears they relate to an original set of ideas that we put to MRPV over 12 months ago, rather than the alternate design that we sent them on 26 October 2020 and also presented to Vicki Ward.

To read more: Vicki Ward’s standard reply and the points ECAG made in response in more detail are both below.

Please consider sending your own reply if you remain unhappy about MRPV’s current design.

You could point out in your reply that:

  • MRPV claims to have consulted the community but you have never been consulted and don’t know anyone else who has been.
  • You could also tell Vicki how you became aware of MRPV’s proposal e.g. I knew nothing about MRPV’s design for the Eltham roundabout until I saw the red ribbons on the roundabout and checked ECAG’s website/ signed ECAG’s petition to Jacinta Allan.
  • Consulting with the community should be a genuine and transparent process not just listening but not responding to the concerns raised.
  • Community consultation should be simple and regular, starting with a discussion of the problem in hand BEFORE a solution is presented.

VICKI WARD’S STANDARD REPLY TO THOSE CONTACTING HER WITH THEIR CONCERNS ABOUT THE ROUNDABOUT

…thank you for your email letting me know of your concerns regarding the design of the new intersection for our end of Fitzsimons Lane.

Like you I enjoy the beauty of our area and of our community. I have lived here for nearly 50 years and well understand what our community values and have worked hard to ensure our values are understood by Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV), who oversee this major road project.

Major Road Projects Victoria released their reference design in September 2018 and began their process of community consultation. This process resulted in 560 conversations in person and over the phone with community members and more than 700 pieces of written feedback. Representatives from Major Road Projects Victoria have door-knocked businesses and residents local to the intersection, held one-on-one meetings with community members and conducted briefings with councils and interest groups, including seven meetings with the with the Eltham Community Action Group.

I have met and spoken with and listened to ECAG many times on this issue and helped them present their petition to the Hon. Jacinta Allan, Minister for Transport Infrastructure.

MRPV has advised me that they do not agree that the designs produced by local retired engineers connected to ECAG offer the same benefits as their design. Of concern to MRPV, for example, is that the latest design did not present bike lanes nor a pedestrian crossing. It also the view of the MRPV engineers that the ECAG design only addresses traffic flowing to and from Eltham; not Bolton St nor Main Road Lower Plenty. It does not, for example, address the challenge of travelling across Main Road from Fitzsimons Lane to turn right into Bolton Street.

MRPV has also hosted three community information sessions. The most recent, at Eltham Library in March 2020 was attended by more than 150 people.

This process has been helpful in the community contributing to the design of this intersection. As a result of community feedback and interactions, including with me and with ECAG, the footprint of the intersection has been refined and reduced by around 15 per cent. These changes will also result in fewer trees and bushes needing to be removed from within the project area.

The consistent advice, initially from VicRoads, and then from MRPV, is that the roundabout has lost it’s efficiency during the morning and afternoon peak. While Fitzsimons Lane in Eltham runs into single lanes in Main Road as well as Bolton St, and double lanes on Main Road in Lower Plenty, it is the intersection itself that disperses the traffic which is the problem. It is the inability to get through the intersection in a timely manner (and at PM peak can be a little nerve-racking moving through traffic travelling north from Fitzsimons Lane across Main Road to go to Bolton Street) during peak hour that is the challenge that is being addressed with this new intersection. I have pushed back against MRPV and the Minister’s office a great deal for more than a year to see if there was any way the intersection could work with saving the roundabout or reducing the footprint even further. I have not been able to achieve more than the above mentioned 15 per cent reduction of the original design.

In the interest in ensuring our community understands as much as they can of this project, I have written to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allen to ask her to provide me with the options that were considered for the intersection so that I can share this with you.

 

Eltham Community Action Group’s response to Vicki Ward’s email:

ECAG’s alternative design

 

1.  ECAG’s later design (October 2020), which is apparently not the one to which MRPV is referring, is a signal controlled roundabout in the peak periods with a slip lane heading to Templestowe and a separation of the Bolton Street movement from the Lower Plenty movement.

We have had no feedback from MRPV and no opportunity to explain details of this proposal.

2.  With regard to comments about bike lanes and pedestrian crossings and vehicle movements in Main Road Lower Plenty, in our alternate design we make the following comments:

a)The current ECAG design shows a shared (bike) lane as far as Jayson Avenue and an indicative pedestrian crossing from near Jayson Avenue to the Lower Plenty triangle.

This crossing could easily be replaced by a pedestrian crossing across Main Road, Eltham before the roundabout, using the stop line shown along with another holding line at the roundabout exit to give a short length pedestrian path across Main Road, Eltham.

Thus this objection from MRPV is not a reason to reject the alternative design.

b) Regarding the difficulty of Fitzsimons Lane traffic crossing Main Road, Lower Plenty to make a right turn into Bolton Street, the stop line shown on the Main Road approach to the roundabout from Eltham is there to meter traffic to allow the Fitzsimons Lane traffic to be able to move into the right turn lane to Bolton Street unimpeded.

c) We agree that improvements are needed to the intersection. Our alternative design achieves these objectives based on our modelling.

3.  As far as EGAG knows, no proper comparison of the performance, particularly in the afternoon peak, of the Reference Design to the ECAG design has been carried out by MRPV.

4.  The 15% reduction in the footprint referred to is a reduction from a massively oversized design which was clearly never needed. The proposed signalised intersection remains massively oversized and entirely inappropriate for such a sensitive site.

5. The revised footprint destroys the mature treed character of the gateway to Eltham with no opportunity to provide landscaping except on the periphery (as highlighted in the Reference Design).

6.  MRPV acknowledged in our meetings with them that they did not account for the effect of the North East Link when estimating future traffic flows through the roundabout.

We submit that the traffic relief provided by the North East Link (approximately 20% according to North East Link independent modelling) removes the need to rush into a massive response which is out of character with the area and does not mesh with the two 2 lane roads to/from Eltham (Main Road and Bolton Street) and the 4 lane road to/from Lower Plenty.

7.  The consultation process has been entirely mishandled despite the numbers of meetings/contacts mentioned by MRPV.

There has been no exchange by MRPV of promised information or contact after mid-March 2020 that would have enabled the merits of the two competing designs to be compared

 

ECAG has supported improvements at the roundabout from the beginning and is very willing to engage in discussions with the government and MRPV. However, we are most dissatisfied with the poor communication between MRPV and ECAG and lack of meaningful community consultation.

It is thus not surprising that most people in the community do not support the MRPV solution which has been imposed on them.

Please listen to your community and let us help you search for a better solution.

© Copyright Eltham Community Action Group 2021