Submission from the WCA on the Draft Jumping Creek Road Development Framework

by | Jun 23, 2016 | General

14th June 2016

Email to Leigh Harrison, Manningham City Council

Dear Leigh,

I attach a submission on behalf of the Warrandyte Community Association regarding the Draft Jumping Creek Road Development Framework. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute. This is an important development with long-term traffic impact implications for the Warrandyte Township. The WCA will be pleased to engage in further discussion of our submission at an appropriate time when planning is further developed and request that we be included in further community consultation.

Submission from the Warrandyte Community Association Inc.

The Warrandyte Community Association is encouraged to see the Council setting out a strategic framework to ensure best possible outcomes for road safety and functionality while, hopefully, minimising the impact on the roadside vegetation and the semi-rural character of the area.

The WCA supports the Manningham City Council Road Safety Strategy, the adoption of ‘Vision Zero’ and the view that “a single life lost or one person seriously injured is one too many” (pg 39).

We have found it difficult to critically assess and comment on the ‘Draft Jumping Creek Road Development Framework’ as only concept plans based on a preliminary design have been provided and final plans are yet been determined. We understand it is a complex issue;  however, we consider that the scenario planning has been inadequately presented to the public.

We offer the following observations and questions for your consideration:

1.     Transparency

The concept plans in their preliminary form are difficult to access and understand. We have received community feedback that the documents are evasive, unclear and confusing and that’s it is difficult to find out how many trees are being lost, what are significant alignment changes, etc.

The maps provided in the Net Gain Analysis Report (Attachment 16) are much easier to understand and Council should make these or similar more easily available to the community as part of the consultation.

There is no reference to details or indicative numbers of trees to be removed in the strategy document itself. On page 24 of the Net Gain Analysis Report Table (Attachment 16), it appears that 168 mostly ‘large’ native trees are likely to be removed. Have there been any significant changes in the proposed works that would negate this estimate?

We ask Council to confirm that the Net Gain Analysis provides an accurate assessment of the environmental impacts and explain why this information has been not been made more readily available to the public.

We also understand that about vegetation loss is estimated at about 2.22 Habitat hectares (p56 & NGA exec summary) and are concerned that without explanation this unit of measuring environment loss may not reveal, to the average reader, the true scale of the area under threat.

2.     Environmental Impact

We understand that in preliminary design stage it is difficult to provide precise environmental impacts.

However we think that it is remiss of Council not to provide modelling of the various alignments and likely environmental impacts (including numbers of trees removed, habitat hectares lost).  It would be much more useful to show 2-3 alignment options and explain the pros and cons of each alignment proposal—improvement in safety, number of trees lost, financial cost to the ratepayers, etc.

Community members have asked if Council can mark trees, with ribbons or markers, or the areas proposed for loss so they can better understand what’s being proposed.  This seems like a very sensible proposal to better inform the residents of Jumping Creek Road and other concerned individuals.

3.     Prioritising Remnant vegetation

The quality of roadside vegetation varies considerably along Jumping Creek Road. We encourage Council to allocate additional resources to protecting the ‘best of’ the remnant vegetation around the bridge and Warrandyte State Park.

4.     Lessons Learnt

We understand that much of MCC road work program is for minor suburban works. We recommend reviewing outcomes and considering lessons learned from the two most recent major road works on Park Road and Tindal’s Road which seemed to have areas for improvement.

From a ‘users experience’ the roundabout at the eastern end of the Park and Tindals Road is difficult to navigate – curvature, sightlines (particularly for lower vehicles) and lane merges are problematic. The project took a long time and there was very little community advice (on-road or elsewhere) about expected timelines. A lot of time and presumably money seemed to be spent raising the car park and lowering the carriageway at the bottom of the hill with limited obvious road safety or functionality outcomes. Work place safety practices at this site appeared to fluctuate.

5.     Expert advice

For such a dynamic, complex and costly project we recommend seeking external expertise advice to ensure strategy and delivery are best practice.

6.     Traffic Flows

The Manningham Integrated Transport Strategy 2003 and Making Manningham Mobile 2010 is great starting point to address the sensitive and emerging issues of local traffic congestion.

Council will need to work with all key road safety partners to achieve a solution to this complex problem and we would like to see VicRoads engaged in review of the strategy and more information about how this update connects with VicRoads plans.

7.     Dated Information

The paper appears to be relying on dated reports. The last safety assessment was in 2006 and ecological assessments from 2008 and 2010 (with Preliminary Net Gain Analysis of the Proposed Jumping Creek Road Upgrade, Warrandyte in 2015).  These dated studies are not best practice and need to be updated.

8.     Wildlife

We could not find any information about the number of road collisions involving kangaroos. We ask that the Council investigate best practice approaches to (a) separating kangaroos and cars and (b) allowing kangaroos to transverse the area. Is there are higher risk of accidents from kangaroos due to combined increased numbers & populations being pushed into smaller remnant vegetation areas (like Jumping Creek Reserve)?  Has Council sought advice from DELWP?

We also recommend additional signage and more effective measures to advise motorists of the potential for kangaroos in the area and to slow down and concentrate.

We ask Council to make a concrete commitment beyond “To address the increased risk of fauna road kill due to the widening of the road, the installation of fauna overpasses and/or underpasses should be investigated” (pg 59)

9.     Speed Limits

We strongly encourage Council to work with VicRoads in considering a reduction in the speed to reduce fauna road kill at key locations along the road (pg 59) and to improve safety outcomes.

The traffic surveys indicate that 15% of all traffic travelling above an average speed of 68.5 km/h. We have spoken to Victoria Police about additional enforcement in the area and we ask that Council do the same.

We are concerned that the upgrade of the road will lead to increased disregard of posted speed limits (ie a ‘better’ road encourages speeding) and recommend that more attention should be given to other traffic calming measures.

10.  Traffic Calming

We agree that the “majority of traffic calming devices such as speed humps and chicanes” would not be appropriate (pg 85). However, we would like the council to consider the installation of centre barriers and/or pedestrian refuges (islands) to discourage drivers overtaking at key sections along the road.

There may a range of other speed reduction, alerts and calming measures that could be utilised, which appear to have been given scant attention in the strategy.

11.  Paths

We support the alignment of this upgrade with the Manningham Bicycle Strategy 2013, Principal Pedestrian Network (PPN) but would like to see a copy of the proposed pathway (draft) and it’s linkages to other existing or proposed paths at both ends of Jumping Creek Road.

On page 94 there is reference to ‘a separate combined pedestrian/horse path’. Is Council proposing the path is for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders?

Cyclists are significant users of this road. Interest and participation is growing and will grow significantly both on the road and the path with the proposed upgrade. Given community polarity and unrest about the impact of cyclists on the road and road safety, we strongly encourage the council to consult with state and  local cycling groups to achieve better functionality and safety outcomes for cyclists.

The additional loss of vegetation to facilitate the shared path might indicate consideration be made to locate it parallel to the road within currently private property with further public acquisitions.

We encourage Council to work with Parks Victoria to link the Jumping Creek Road path with other local cycling trails such as roads through the Warrandyte Common (Haslams Track), the Jumping Creek Reserve and linkages through Black Flat to the Yarra Trail.

We also encourage Council to work with the local community to better promote the lifestyle, transport and economic benefits to encouraging cycling on the Jumping Creek Road pathway.

12.  Pedestrian crossings

There is one reference in the paper to inadequate pedestrian crossing being an issue but it’s not clear how this is being responded to.

13.  Clear Zones and Guard Rails

We encourage Council to refer to the outcomes of the recent VicRoads wire safety barrier trial and put serious consideration to using median road barriers to reduce head on collisions.

Also many of road crashes to date “involved vehicles leaving the road and colliding with objects on the side of the road, such as trees, fences and open drains”. So whilst much of the problem is around ‘run off’s it would appear that much of upgrade work is focused around intersections.

14.  Bushfire Risk

There is limited reference to bushfire risk within the paper aside from programing works outside of the fire season (Pg 96).

Has there been a bushfire risk assessment of the road (per VicRoads guidelines) and a review of mitigation treatments (particularly education and Bushfire scenario operational planning and preparedness)?

15.  Further Consultation

We note that there has been substantial consultation since 2011 and further consultation is limited to abutting landholders and those parties that made submissions in 2011.The WCA formally requests that we  be included in future consultation.

16.  An opportunity to do more

Jumping Creek Road is a gateway to the Yarra Valley and has considerable scenic characteristics.

There is the potential, albeit at a smaller scale, to promote it as an iconic tourist route like the Great Ocean Road and the Black Spur. We would like to see Council do more to build on the existing strengths and values of this road.

We recommend that Council provide the community with an opportunity to develop a more visionary approach to this upgrade. The community and council has a wealth of talents, skills and passions, and we think that there is much more that could be added to this upgrade strategy.

Please find below some initial ideas we offer for consideration include:

  • Greater promotion (signage, artwork, etc) of the environmental significance and natural beauty of the area, the unique fauna. For examples signs “Slow down, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koala, Phascogale, birds, reptiles etc. in the area” could benefit both safety and tourism concurrently.
  • Promote Jumping Creek Reserve as a ‘must see’ destination less than 35km from the CBD and provide easily accessible touring and cycling maps
  • Create linkages for cyclists between Warrandyte State Park, Jumping Creek Reserve and the Yarra River.
  • Develop marked/effective cycling crossing points on Warrandyte Ringwood Road (to link Warrandtye State Park to the Common at Harding/Johansens area), Jumping Creek Road (Nelson Drive to link Warrandyte Common to Jumping Creek Reserve) etc.

The community has a wealth of idea’s that could help realise the fabulous opportunities afforded by the Jumping Creek Road Upgrade.

Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission.  We look forward to continuing to be involved in the community consultation on this issue

Yours Sincerely,

 

Dick Davies

President,

Warrandyte Community Association

Mob: 0413753622

Email:dickdockdavies@gmail.com

Mail: P O Box 75 Warrandyte 3113