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8 Feb 2019 - Community Information Session Feedback

The focus of this update is to provide feedback on the issues and questions raised at the Community Information Session held on 11 December 2018.

The key issues raised were as follows:

Justification for the Proposed Facilities

Balaclava Road and New Dookie Road are VicRoads declared Arterial Roads.  Verney Road and Hawdon Street are Council collector streets.  The intersection is one of the vital links to industry in Shepparton and also services neighbouring residential subdivisions, three schools in close proximity and two adjoining school bus interchanges. Substantial kerb damage has occurred at the existing roundabout because it is not of a sufficient size to accommodate truck movements.

In 2015 Council identified significant traffic congestion was occurring at and around the existing roundabout intersection of Balaclava.Verney, New Dookie Roads and Hawdon Street.

A local area traffic study was commissioned by Council for which a report was prepared in April 2016. The local area traffic study investigated existing traffic volumes and movements along the roads network within the vicinity of the Balaclava Road / Verney Road roundabout. It then determined what traffic treatments would be required to accommodate future traffic growth.  The study is available on Council’s website – see link in item 2 below.

The traffic study determined general growth and the impact of new residential and industrial subdivisions would see a projected increase in traffic volumes by approximately 50% over the next 10 years. The local area traffic study determined that the existing roundabout at peak times was already nearing capacity so it would not cope with the future projected traffic volume.

Upgrading the existing roundabout to a dual lane roundabout would have required significant land acquisition. The intersection option identified by the report would accommodate future projected traffic volumes and fit within the existing available space was a signalised intersection with an increased number of traffic lanes.

Council has proceeded with detailed engineering based on these conclusions.

Extent of Traffic Studies and Outcomes

The Traffix Group’s 2016 report referred to above includes a summary of previous traffic and other studies relevant to the Balaclava Road / Verney Road intersection along with findings from the studies.  The Traffix Group study is available from this link: Traffix Group Study - Balaclava/Verney Road Intersection Traffic (PDF).

Why Not Consider Diversions of Traffic to Other Larger Roads, Such as Ford Road?

A draft study on the use of Wanganui Road and Ford Road (Wanganui Road & Ford Road, Shepparton Feasibility Study Design Report, GTA consultants, 09/02/2018) recommends significant upgrades to these roads as part of the Shepparton bypass development.  It is anticipated that this will result in Wanganui Road and Ford Road being the primary choice for traffic entering and exiting the bypass.  The study is available from this link: Ford and Wanganui Road/Draft Wanganui Road and Ford Road Shepparton - Feasibility Study Design Report 2018 (PDF).

Similarly, the proposed industrial developments at the western end of New Dookie Road will increase traffic at the Balaclava Road / Verney Road intersection.

The roads that intersect at this location are part of the arterial network and well established traffic routes.  Forcing traffic to use alternative routes to avoid upgrading the intersection is not an option for Council / VicRoads.

Current Status of Project and Scope for Changes, including on-street parking issues

The civil contract is currently being tendered, with the aim of awarding the contract at the February 2019 Council meeting.    A number of improvements as a result of recent consultation with residents and businesses have been identified and are being evaluated for compliance with regulations.  These include:

  • Indented parking adjacent to businesses along the south side of New Dookie Road;
  • Indented parking on the south side of Balaclava Road;
  • Signage enabling parking along Hawdon Street in off-peak times such as overnight and at weekends and KEEP CLEAR road markings for driveways close to the intersection;
  • Gravel paving of the current informal parking area on Ash Street, north of New Dookie Road;
  • Changes that prove feasible and don’t compromise the project outcome will be considered for inclusion in the contract works.

Timeline for Construction

A contract to replace Goulburn Valley Water water mains will be undertaken from February to April 2019.  The main civil works contract is planned to commence on-site in April 2019 and projected to finish in mid-2020.  The community will be informed of progress throughout the contract and it is our intention to work with the Reference Group and Contractors to minimise disruption as far as possible.

Right Hand Turns along New Dookie Road and Glenn Street Access to New Dookie Road

The projected volume of traffic turning right from New Dookie Road to Verney Road requires a turning lane that extends west of Glenn Street.  In addition there is an unacceptable safety risk of traffic attempting to turn right when travelling east along New Dookie Road in the vicinity of the Balaclava Road / Verney Road intersection.  There is a similar risk for traffic attempting a right hand turn from Glenn Street, including having to cross three lanes of traffic.  A raised traffic island is required along New Dookie Road to manage these risks.  As a result, Glenn Street traffic will only be able to turn left both into and out of Glenn Street to New Dookie Road.

Access to Properties During Construction

As part of the contract requirements, the construction contractor must maintain access to residential and commercial properties at all practicable times during construction.  Signage to indicate how to access businesses has also been specified.  The exact details will be established in the contractor’s traffic management plan and will be publicised during the contract. The contract requires the contractor to provide at least 24 hours’ notice to all affected parties of any short term access limitations. The establishment of the Reference Group will facilitate these discussions.

Limitations to Traffic Flow During Construction

Council has specified the construction contractor must maintain, as a minimum, east bound traffic flow along Balaclava Road and north bound along Verney Road at all times during construction.  Maintenance of pedestrian access to residential and commercial properties is also specified.  The exact details will be established in the contractor’s traffic management plan and will be publicised during the contract.

Bicycle Access and Safety

The physical constraints of the site don’t allow for dual lanes and a dedicated bike lane.  The bike lane will merge into the left lane on Hawdon Street.

The bike lane on the north side of Balaclava Road will be converted to a shared path for about 200 metres west of the intersection. 

It should be noted that bike lanes merge into the traffic lane prior to the intersection under the current roundabout configuration.

Bus Stop in Verney Road adjacent to Elm Terrace entrance / traffic island at exit from Elm Terrace

Residents of Elm Terrace raised concerns about the close proximity of the public bus stop to the entrance to Elm Terrace creating a safety hazard.  Elm Terrace residents also queried whether the traffic island in Verney Road at the exit from Elm Terrace could be reduced to the south to enable a smoother exit from Elm terrace.

Council is investigating these concerns to identify any improvements that can be implemented.

Future Traffic Congestion Compared to Current Congestion

Signalising and providing additional traffic lanes for the Balaclava Road / Verney Road intersection will provide more capacity for vehicle movements than the existing roundabout.  This, along with safety, is the primary reason for the upgrade.  The 2016 Traffix Group traffic study projected that traffic movements will increase by approximately 50% by 2026, depending on the origin/destination.

A subsequent recent expansion to the traffic study compared anticipated traffic queue lengths for the new signalised intersection versus continuing with the current roundabout.  

It shows that by 2026:

  • The existing roundabout is predicted to experience traffic queues exceeding 500 metres at peak times, with delay times exceeding five (5) minutes. This is indicative of a completely dysfunctional intersection, with major congestion and safety issues;
  • The new signalised intersection with additional traffic lanes is predicted to experience traffic queue lengths in the range of 90 to 195 metres, with delay times in the order of one minute. The difficulty for large vehicles crossing the current roundabout also adds to the congestion and safety for travellers.

The traffic lights will enable the traffic in each direction to move in “waves” with gaps in between compared to the random traffic movements with an overloaded roundabout. 

The recent expansion to the 2016 Traffix Group study is available on Council’s website at this link: New Dookie Road / Balaclava Road Study - Additional Analysis - Report - 18 January 2019 (PDF).

Impacts of Traffic Diversions on Surrounding Streets During Construction

During construction, traffic diversions will be required for which signage will be prominently displayed. The actual traffic diversion routes cannot be confirmed until the construction contract is awarded and the contractor’s traffic management plan is prepared.

The Reference Group is a valuable forum to raise suggestions and test ideas in this regard.

Changes to Bus Interchange

The bus interchange on the north side of Balaclava Road will be relocated to the north end of the current Shepparton High School bus stops, along Hawdon Street.  This will be undertaken prior to the start of the 2019 school year.

These works are the responsibility of PTV (Public Transport Victoria) and the bus monitor for the Shepparton district. 

Role of Vic Roads and Funding Split

As the responsible authority for New Dookie Road and Balaclava Road, Vic Roads sets the standard of works for these roads.  Hawdon Street and Verney Road are Council roads, subject to Council standards.  The intersection design takes account the requirements of both Vic Roads and the Council.

Current funding for the project is provided from:

  • Federal government (via Shepparton Alternative Route Freight Enhancement Package);
  • Greater Shepparton City Council.

VicRoads may also contribute to the project pending final design and initiatives adopted.

Accident Records for the Intersection

The 2016 Traffix Group report addresses the accident record for the intersection.  In summary it states there had been five casualty crashes from 2010 to 2015 attributable to the intersection.  The severity of the accidents was only recorded for two of these accidents – both were listed as “serious”.

Vic Roads Work at Doyles Road Roundabouts

Vic Roads is proposing to upgrade roundabouts at Doyles Road and New Dookie Road and Doyles Road and Old Dookie Road during 2019 to dual lanes, similar to the Doyles Road and Benalla Road roundabout. 

Modification of Grassed Nature Strips to Paved Verges

The requests for converting the grass nature strip on Balaclava Road immediately west of the intersection to paved verges can be accommodated.  Granitic gravel paving is proposed.

Traffic Barriers at the Corners of the Intersection

The design incorporates some pedestrian fencing. Requirements for any additional safety measures will be determined via a safety audit carried out on the final design.

Additional Access Road from New Dookie Road to Ash Street near Conifer Street

The inclusion of an additional access road for improved access to the Conifer Street shops is currently being investigated by Council, and would need to be approved by VicRoads. The investigation will consider the possible local traffic benefits versus the required additional cost and safety impacts.

Modified Bus Route To Divert Buses From Clive Street to Balaclava Service Road

A suggested modification to the bus route was raised to reduce bus traffic on Clive Street.  The suggestion was evaluated by Council’s traffic engineers and it was resolved that the modified route would cause additional congestion in the vicinity of Bourchier Street Primary School and along the Balaclava Road service road, along with more difficult access onto Balaclava Road.  It was resolved that the current bus route along Clive Street should remain.

Compensation Claims

At this moment Council is not issuing compensation as it does not see compensation is payable as a result of these works, however if anyone is seeking compensation as a result of the works a formal submission to Council should be made. 

Communications Process

The proposal to signalise the Balaclava-Verney Road intersection was first publicised in February 2018 in relation to the decision to relocate the bus interchange on the north side of Balaclava Road to Nixon Street.  Following the Education Department’s announcement regarding the high school site, it was decided the interchange will be relocated to Shepparton High School.

Design of the signalised intersection to meet Council and VicRoads’ requirements were undertaken during 2018.  Once the proposed arrangements were clear Council organised a Community Information Session for Tuesday 11 December 2018 and invited by letter-drop to residents and businesses within a 500m radius of the intersection and media outlets to attend to view details and to raise any issues.  In addition, businesses in the New Dookie Road / Glenn Street / Annerley Street / Conifer Street / Wheeler Road area were visited and the proposed arrangements discussed.  These discussions have been valuable in raising specific issues for various premises that are being evaluated by Council.

Landowners have been contacted and requested to contact the Council if they wish to discuss the proposed arrangements.

In early 2019, Council has established a Community Reference Group to assist Council with minimisation of impacts to the surrounding community during the construction contract.

Council proposes to issue regular to residents, businesses and landowners who have registered throughout the project.

 

Residents, landowners or businesses with specific issues can contact Council by telephone 03 5832 9700 or email projects@shepparton.vic.gov.au to discuss the issues.