Hawdon St residents speak out over congestion

By Myles Peterson

Following the start of the new school year last week, some residents of Hawdon St have described new traffic arrangements on the busy Shepparton High School fronting road as ‘‘absolute chaos’’ during morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up times.

Resident Peter Fiegert, who lives directly opposite the school, has been closely monitoring the congestion and said the new conditions were not only inconvenient, but dangerous.

‘‘I don’t know how this is ever going to work,’’ Mr Fiegert said.

Mr Fiegert said new bus parking arrangements along Hawdon St were compounding congestion and he said he was frequently ‘‘parked in’’ by school buses straddling his driveway.

‘‘The town bus pulls up over my driveway as well,’’ he said.

One bus driver, who did not wish to be named, said the new arrangements had made his job difficult.

‘‘It’s hard for us to get a park. The bays are too narrow, we end up taking out half the bike lane which pushes the cyclists out into traffic. These kids, they have to dodge cars on their bikes. It’s chaos,’’ he said.

Christina Mei, whose family has lived on Hawdon St for decades, said council had failed to address her family’s concerns regarding the new bus parking arrangements and plans to redevelop the intersection of Balaclava Rd, Hawdon St, New Dookie Rd and Verney Rd.

Greater Shepparton City Council has removed documentation from its website that said the preferred location of the interchange was nearby Nixon St, not the new location on Hawdon St.

‘‘The preferred location is located immediately to the south of Deakin Reserve on the northern side of Nixon St between Harold and Skene Sts,’’ the recovered document states.

Ms Mei said there was considerable support for the Nixon St option.

In September, council changed the planned arrangements to accommodate the future so-called ‘‘super school’’ to be implemented at the Shepparton High School campus next year.

The council’s infrastructure director Phil Hoare said he was unaware of any complaints about the new bus parking arrangements.

‘‘Since commencing operation of the new Hawdon St school bus stops there have been no formal complaints from any Hawdon St residents received by council,’’ he said in a written statement.

Mr Hoare said nor had council received any resident complaints about being ‘‘parked-in’’.

Ms Mei said the statements were disingenuous and that council had received multiple complaints during the course of the redevelopment proposal and accused Mr Hoare of using ‘‘weasel worlds’’ to deflect criticism.

‘‘It sounds very disingenuous... it’s probably true that since the (recent) relocation there have been no complaints, (but) we know at least 15 objection letters have been made,’’ she said.

Mr Hoare said council was aware that bike lanes on Hawdon St would be partially obscured, but this was only temporary.

‘‘This is an interim solution that will only be in effect until the implementation of an ultimate bus interchange solution integrated as part of the regional school development,’’ his statement said.

He said the council was also watching the issue of congestion.

‘‘With school only returning in the second half of (last) week, it’s a bit early to have identified any issues. However, no traffic flow issues have yet been reported to council ... We expect the impact on through traffic to be minimal as there was already a requirement for traffic to give way to buses exiting the original bus bays,’’ his statement said.