I came away from a recent community forum on Queanbeyan’s transport issues with a renewed faith in people power. Residents overwhelmingly sent a strong message to decision-makers at the forum that the Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) by-pass is not wanted and won’t solve Queanbeyan’s current or future traffic problems – it will make them worse. Unfortunately, until now, decision-makers do not appear to have been listening.
In 2012, 300+ residents voiced strong opposition to the EDE and associated Jumping Creek development at a meeting hosted by John Barilaro MP at the Roos Club and attended by the mayor, councillors and Googong developers.
Just two years later, after assuring residents their voices had been heard, Mr Barilaro and his Federal counterpart, Peter Hendy MP, recently pledged $50m of taxpayers’ money to construct the EDE. Previously, the Googong developers were responsible for over 70% of the cost.
Council claims a ‘by-pass’ is needed to: (i) serve future Googong commuters, most of whom will likely work in the ACT; (ii) divert heavy vehicles out of Queanbeyan’s main street; and (iii) ease ACT coastal traffic in the CBD.
Clear alternatives to the EDE by-pass to solve these problems include:
(i) Priority construction of Dunns Creek Road directly from Googong, past Tralee, and out to the Monaro Highway and Majura Parkway. It would also be more direct for Holcim Quarry trucks to the ACT.
(ii) Urgent improvement and promotion of the existing but ineffective Queanbeyan Heavy Vehicle Bypass (aka the ‘Northern Bypass’)and other roads through Queanbeyan’s and Fyshwick’s industrial areas, in consultation with the trucking industry.
(iii) A new comprehensive “Transport and Traffic Study” involving extensive community consultation, taking account of social, environmental and financial impacts of road options and improvements to Queanbeyan’s transport.
My message to decision-makers is there is no shame in admitting you got it wrong provided you then engage in real community debate about what is needed and ultimately get the decision right!
The shame is in wasting obscene amounts of taxpayers’ money on an ineffective road that will worsen the quality of life for many Queanbeyan residents and destroy our natural environment. Your names will forever be associated with the biggest white elephant Queanbeyan has seen in a long time.
If you have concerns about the EDE, write to councillors, local and federal MPs, the local press or simply sign the petition at https://www.communityrun.organisations/put-the-brakes-on-the-ellerton-drive-extension-proposed-for-queanbeyan. The time to speak up is now.