by Luke Voogt
Geelong is suffering growth pains as infrastructure and services lag behind the city’s rapidly expanding population, according to municipal alliance G21 and ratepayers.
“Infrastructure is not keeping pace with growth,” said Elaine Carbines, G21 chief executive officer (CEO).
Ms Carbines urged state and federal governments to fast-track major infrastructure projects, such as railway duplication from Geelong to Waurn Ponds.
The call comes after Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher recently backed an Australian Business Council push to give the city priority economic status.
The concept would see 10 regional cities including Geelong receive extra funding for infrastructure at the expense of other areas.
Ms Carbines welcomed recent government funding, including a Geelong City Deal and about $4 billion in Federal Election promises.
“But we want them to get on and do the job,” she said.
The duplication of the Geelong line was moving at “glacial pace” despite significant funding allocations, according to G21.
Barwon Heads Rd, serving the rapidly-expanding Armstrong Creek needed urgent duplication, the organisation stated.
The road’s peak-hour traffic was congested and getting rapidly worse each week as new residents moved in, G21 said.
G21 also called for a firm commitment to a “crucial” link connecting Geelong Ring Road to the Bellarine Peninsula.
Geelong Ratepayers president Peter Mitchell agreed the city was suffering congestion.
He said arterial roads like Barwon Heads Rd should be duplicated before council opened up areas such as Armstrong Creek to developers.
“People are trying to drive on it while it’s still being upgraded.”
Plans for two new Geelong growth areas, set house to 110,000 residents, indicated council had “accepted this”, he said.
Mr Mitchell said giving Geelong priority status could improve local infrastructure and help turn the city into the “economic centre it’s trying to be”.
Indy readers also voiced growth concerns on social media, with some attacking Ms Asher’s suggestion that Geelong could take growth pressure off Melbourne.
“Is she kidding?” Linda Matthews said.
“Isn’t that what all the development between here and Torquay has already been doing?
“I can’t even get out of Church St Grovedale … in the morning unless I drive down the back streets, behind the servo and get past the lights.”
“This town’s infrastructure is terrible!” said Donna Leworthy
“Bellarine Peninsula roads are clogged every day and at a standstill during summer. The city is also choking to death.”
The G21 region, stretching from Portarlington to Cape Otway, was home to 332,000 people and set to expand to 500,000 by 2050, the organisation stated.