Following extensive pre-draft consultation in mid-2017, Greater Shepparton City Council, in partnership with Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) (previously VicRoads) and GTA Consultants Pty Ltd (GTA) prepared the Draft Wanganui Road and Ford Road Shepparton Feasibility Study Design Report (Draft Report) in February 2018.
The purpose of the investigation was to detail how Ford and Wanganui Roads could be upgraded to effectually cater for the potential expected increases in traffic volumes and serve as a key east-west future arterial route connecting Stage 1 of the Goulburn Valley Highway Shepparton Bypass with the Shepparton Alternative Route (Grahamvale Road). A final report would provide the elements needed to effectively advocate for future government funding as part of a future state government budget process.
The Draft Report identified the upgrades needed to enable Ford and Wanganui Roads to serve this future role and function in the wider arterial road network. The Draft Report proposed three separate cross sections and three key intersection upgrades to cater for this outcome.
“Council has worked hard to ensure that there would be significant net community benefit for both the immediate local area but also the wider region from any future State government investment in the route,” Council’s Director Sustainable Development, Geraldine Christou, said.
“This has included ensuring significant landscaping is realised through this project, that the safety of vehicular traffic, pedestrians and recreational cyclists are safeguarded and improved, and that the predicted noise levels arising from any upgrade could be ameliorated through a number of factors including the use of a low noise emitting road surface,” she said.
The Draft Report was released for public comment from 26 February 2018 to 23 April 2018. Feedback from the community suggested four alternative alignments should be considered to serve as the east west arterial route. In response Council undertook further targeted consultation with the land owners and occupiers located adjacent to these alternative alignments. In total, 123 submissions were received by Council during both consultation phases. At this time, it was envisaged that Council would consider a final report in late 2018.
Since the completion of these subsequent consultation phases in mid-2018, the responsibility for planning and designing changes to some of the arterial road network has been transferred from RRV to Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV). At present, RRV and MRPV are working to complete further planning studies on the wider Shepparton and Mooroopna road network to help inform a number of future arterial road upgrades, particularly Stage 1 of the Shepparton Bypass.
A critical component of these planning studies is the completion of an updated integrated transport model. This information will inform all future planning and design work for road upgrades across Shepparton and Mooroopna. This work is not expected to be complete until late-2019. MRPV is also undertaking an additional design review of the proposed upgrade design for the entire route to ensure that the route complies with recently updated standards for arterial link roads.
Given the above and the length of time since the Draft Report was prepared, it is anticipated that an updated Draft Report will be considered by Council at an ordinary council meeting to be held in early 2020 before being released for further public consultation. As part of this process, further targeted consultation would be undertaken with directly affected land owners and occupiers of land.
Council recognises that the need to undertake these further studies and reviews has increased the timeframe needed to complete an updated Draft Report. However, this is a critical stage of the project that will ensure that the ultimate design for Ford and Wanganui Roads is fit-for-purpose. Council is continuing to work collaboratively with the State Government and GTA Consultants Pty Ltd to finalise this updated Draft Report as soon as is practicable.