There are not many residents present for the public forum tonight – but a few of us are here.
Crs Marshall, Byrne and Mayor Sipek are waiting for some others. The Mayor begins – welcoming us all (and making sure I noticed he followed the meeting procedures correctly last meeting!).
Crs Surace, Nation, Sharpe, Lawrence and Gauci-Maurici have arrived.
Question one is from Christine from Essendon. She asks a question about the Mayor’s reference to a “a raft of safety issues to do with the Buckley Level Crossing.” She asks the Mayor what these are and how they will be addressed.
The Mayor says the Council is still waiting for information from the State government and when this information arrives, MVCC will be able to enhance the plans for the underpass.
Gill says some civil design drawings have arrived at Council – and comments have been provided back to LXRA based on feedback from the community. He says there have been traffic signal designs provided.
Richard from … says that his concern is that, from a safety point of view, the design looks flawed – particularly regarding cyclists and their interaction with cars. He is also concerned about student pedestrians. He mentions Lorraine St and that the LXRA has tried a number of times to answer his concerns regarding Lorraine St – but there are still problems. He says it is a flawed design supported by the Councillors. He asks how safe he will be on his bike in the underpass.
He mentions that the Council said they would receive information from LXRA now that they have signed off and said they would not take legal action. Richard asks the Mayor: if I am in the tunnel on my bike, what will happen to the traffic behind me? “Explain to me … people can’t step away from safety.” “If there is a safety issue, the pause button would be pressed” in his line of work. “You guys tossed it out a month ago.” “You’ll make me happy if you can tell me I will be safe.”
The Mayor replies that Buckley St is an arterial Road, and therefore Richard’s questions should be directed towards VicRoads not to Council. The Mayor asks if Richard agrees. Richard says Council has responsibility. The Mayor says that two Acts of Parliament were passed that take away responsibility from Council – the MTPFA and … He calls for an officer to explain further.
Natalie says that Council did not sign off on the project, but to work with LXRA. She says MVCC does not have any authority for the project but has the ability to influence and is working to influence safety outcomes. She says that cyclists might need to use another route. She says it is a matter of MVCC using influence to achieve the safest outcome.
“So that’s it,” says Richard. “How effective is the traffic flow through the tunnel with a cyclist holding traffic up?”
Gill answers – he says he will double check the width of the road. He says there will be alternative routes and Council is progressing the alternative route – Shamrock St, and East along Fletcher St to Brunswick – “a safe alternative route to a busy Buckley St even today”.
Richard says that bikes will still use the tunnel. Gill says the traffic flow assessment has not been provided.
The Mayor intervenes and suggests the discussion is taken off-line.
Angelo from Essendon asks … it was discussed that LXRA would come to the table and provide further details. Has the LXRA provided further details? What are we able to discuss?
Gills says the civil design drawings have been provided and the signal design drawings and the traffic report is due to be received.
Angelo asks whether Gill can release these plans and documents to the public.
Gill says the detailed design drawings are provided under the confidentiality agreement. (What? Why are these documents confidential? Why did Council sign a confidentiality agreement? Is this information only being provided because MVCC did not proceed with legal action? Why wasn’t it provided anyway? I have so many questions!)
Gill says these are detailed drawings, that MVCC completed feedback, and the LXRA needs to provide responses to these design comments.
Cr Surace asks whether they will change the signalisation at Russell St given that Russell St has been closed.
Cr Lawrence asks whether there is a time frame for LXRA providing all of the information.
The Mayor says that he has realised who Angelo is – that he ran for pre-selection for the Liberal party for Essendon.
Richards asks whether it is a waste of time talking to Council about the design.
The Mayor says that it is the result of two Acts of Parliament and Council “can’t do nothing” (we think he means “can’t do anything”!).
Cr Surace suggests that Richard liaise directly with officers.
Richard asks what the point is if everything released is confidential.
The forum ends.