Shepparton bypassed by state government

By James Bennett

Frustration is mounting at the Victorian Government for delaying the release of the business case for the Shepparton Bypass.

It was expected to be released this month but Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said it would not be ready until next year.

She said work on the business case was "ongoing".

The Federal Government has committed $208 million to fund stage one of the Shepparton Bypass, leaving the business case as the major road block.

Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said she was angry after she asked Ms Allan in parliament when it would be released.

“The people of Shepparton and Mooroopna have been waiting decades for this project. The land is acquired,” Ms Sheed said.

“My constituents deserve better than having industrial traffic forced down their main thoroughfares.”

Ms Sheed said the noisy and dangerous traffic was damaging the towns, and the government must continue its good record in Shepparton.

She said she would be horrified if the Shepparton Bypass took longer to complete than the second Echuca-Moama Bridge "that has dragged on for so many years".

Ms Allan said "complexities" had caused the delay to the bypass business case.

“I am advised that there is significant work that needs to be done to ensure that the relevant environmental and cultural heritage issues in particular are addressed through the business case, so that work is ongoing,” she said.

Ms Allan said there would be a second meeting with the project liaison group and she would communicate with key local stakeholders in the project.

“However, I will underscore the point that it is important that we undertake this planning, do the rigorous planning process, to identify any issues,” she said.

“You would rather identify them now in this planning stage than have them uncovered during the construction phase when it is much more difficult to address, so we will continue to work through those issues with the Shepparton community.”

Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell also expressed annoyance at the state government.

“The bypass business case was funded almost three years ago (May 2017) and should have been completed long ago,” she said.

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the state government had lied to the Shepparton community.

“They have sat around for two-and-a-half years telling us they're doing the business case,” he said.

“Eleven months ago they came clean and said they've done nothing for 12 months. They said this would be released by Christmas; a business case should take three months to complete not 10 months or even longer.

“This is a classic example of a government not wanting to spend money in a city. This should send a shiver down the spine of the people of Shepparton and Goulburn Valley.”

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum accused the state government of lying to the Shepparton community.

The federal funding must cover 80 per cent of stage one, with the state contributing the rest.

However, Ms Allan said the promised $208 million in federal money would probably not be enough.

But Mr Drum said federal funding would not be a problem.

“There's every chance that's true (the $208 million won't fund 80 per cent) but you need to remember that figure was based on the only estimate we had at the time,” he said.

“This project won't be completed for at least another three years so if additional funding is needed we can go back to the federal government to get that money.

“That gives us three (federal) budgets to find up to $60 million — which is probably the difference — but the ball goes back into the state government court to do the business case.”

Stage one of the Shepparton Bypass plans to connect the Midland Hwy, Mooroopna with Wanganui Rd in Shepparton.

This would include a second Goulburn River crossing for motorists.

Further proposals include building a new road from Old Toolamba on the Goulburn Valley Hwy to connect with the stage one road and continue through to Congupna.

Shepparton Bypass timeline

1992: The Goulburn Valley Hwy declared part of the National Highway System.

1995: VicRoads begins planning study on the alignment of the Shepparton Bypass.

2006: Bypass boundaries gazetted into the Greater Shepparton Planning Scheme.

April 2013: Opening of the Nagambie Bypass.

2016: VicRoads estimates the full 36km four-lane Shepparton Bypass will cost about $1.3 billion.

June 2017: Victorian Government commits $10 million to prepare a business case and acquire land for stage one of the bypass. Business case due to be released in November 2019.

April 2019: The Federal Government commits to paying the lion’s share of the Shepparton Bypass stage one proposal, agreeing to fund $208 million of the estimated $260 million cost.

November 2019: Independent Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed expresses anger in state parliament that bypass business case is delayed until 2020.


More on the Shepparton Bypass

Put Shepparton bypass on the map

Lovell clashes with minister over bypass

Community leaders glad with previous state budgets