Liberals vow to scrap controversial route. Bypass ‘referendum’

Andrew Mathieson
A LIBERAL State Government would scrap controversial plans for the third stage of Geelong’s bypass, South Barwon candidate Michael King has announced.
The Liberals would instead send the stage further west to avoid ending the bypass at traffic lights on the Princes Highway at Waurn Ponds.
Mr King hoped the policy would prove decisive in his battle for the former blue-ribbon Liberal seat with incumbent Michael Crutchfield.
The Labor MP, who holds onto South Barwon by a five per cent margin, has defended the Bracks Government’s unpopular decision to link the bypass and Princes Highway.
Business groups and residents have slammed the Government’s decision to adopt option one, fearing a traffic bottleneck at Waurn Ponds.
Mr King told the Independent the Liberals would choose either options three or four, both west of Deakin University.
The party had previously committed to reviewing the decision but had not ruled out option one.
“If we’re elected to government, we’ll abandon option one, clear as that,” Mr King said.
He wanted to turn next month’s election into a referendum on the bypass.
“Certainly, this is the biggest issue in the seat,” he said.
“Why it’s so critical is that to spend that sort of money on major infrastructure projects you’ve got to get it right first time.
“It’s just going to cost an enormous amount of money to fix up a flawed or poor decision, which is the option one ending in traffic lights.”
Mr King was convinced the Opposition had tapped into strong public sentiment against option one.
He said a panel inquiry leading to the Government’s option one decision was part of a “flawed process”.
“There are better alternatives,” Mr King said.
“Yes, (the option one route) has been on the Melways for 26 years but Geelong has moved a long way in 26 years.
“Option one is clearly not in Geelong’s best long-term interests about how the city is going to grow.”
Deputy Premier John Thwaites said the Government had rejected the options west through the Barrabool Hills due to adverse impacts on the landscape.
The Government accepted a recommendation from Planning Minister Rob Hulls following the independent panel inquiry hearing more than 230 public submissions on a Vicroads environmental effects statement.