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Transport: unhappy residents face decision-makers

A facilitated community meeting on a Sunday afternoon in late August drew 60 plus concerned residents to the Jerrabomberra Community Centre to talk about Queanbeyan traffic planning – from the severe lack of bus service and enough bicycle routes to the controversial Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) and Edwin Land Parkway (ELP) plans (see letter this/next page).

It was planned to be a grassroots-up conversation with local politicians, Mayor Tim Overall, Member for Monaro John Barilaro, federal member for Eden- Monaro Peter Hendy, and Labor candidate for Monaro Steve Whan listening. Former member for Eden-Monaro and a strong critic of the EDE plan, Mike Kelly, was present as a resident.

The meeting was organised by the Jerrabomberra Residents Association and the Queanbeyan Conservation Alliance. Groups represented were:    Queanbeyan Landcare, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Lands Council, Wildcare Queanbeyan, Queanbeyan Bicycle Users Group, Qcity Transit (bus service provider),  Greenleigh residents,  Fairlane Estate residents,  Jerrabomberra residents, Local Indigenous Community,  Oaks Estate Progress Association,  Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability and Jerrabomberra Public School.

In a fairly powerful round-robin presentation (‘why are you here’) most present spoke about the impact on their lives of the EDE/ELP plans, the focus on cars, the noise on the ELP already, the lack of more pedestrian friendly planning, including for Jerra schoolchildren, plus complaining of not being heard by council in the leadup to advanced plans for constructing those roads.

‘This is not a bypass’ was a dominant theme; also why did Queanbeyan allow so many suburbs to spring up along a 40 year old road idea, only to now finally build it and affect the amenity of as much as 1/3 of existing residents.

Margot Sachse of the Jerrabomberra Residents Association said: “We are sick and tired of the (council) general manager saying because we are not engineers, we don’t understand traffic impacts.”

Why would Queanbeyan want to destroy the connection between bushland, wildlife corridors and the Queanbeyan River with a massive bridge and divisive road? “We live in an area that is absolutely beautiful,” said Finola Doran of Fairlane. “Let’s find a solution that doesn’t destroy it.” Concerns about the impact on wildlife were frequently voiced along with “let’s preserve what we have”.

At the end of the day the assembled decision-makers (with the exception of Steve Whan who voiced reservations about taxpayers paying for roads for developers) said, we want it all, all the roads mentioned!

The Bulletin later asked Mayor Tim Overall what he took away from the meeting. He said: “The critical importance of council comprehensively engaging with affected adjoining property owners regarding noise assessment and noise amelioration measures that would need to be put in place at time of construction – to address amenity issues.

“Council in conjunction with the RMS needs to revisit and review Edwin Land Parkway pedestrian crossing safety and put forward options for consideration. The concerns of Landcare and Wildcare groups, in particular, re native fauna impacts and design considerations.

“A need for council to communicate with residents more fully the justificationand basis for the EDE and dispel ill-informed statements such as a ‘four lane highway’, ‘an expressway’ ‘a road to nowhere’ etc.

“The lack of awareness that Dunns Creek Road remains part of future road network planning as a desirable adjunct, and council is proceeding with corridor identification and concept design work.”

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