Shepparton overpass debated

By Ashlea Witoslawski

The Shepparton Railway Pedestrian Overpass and Shared Path Linkages concept plans created much discussion at this week’s Greater Shepparton City Council meeting, as councillors shared their opinions and concerns.

In the Shepparton Railway Precinct Master Plan 2017, improving accessibility and connectivity to Shepparton Railway Station for pedestrians and cyclists was highlighted as a key, short-term objective.

In light of this, the Council appointed Arcadis Pty Ltd to prepare draft concept designs and detailed costings for a pedestrian overpass.

At the ordinary council meeting held in December last year, the council released the draft concept plans for public consultation in which 63 submissions were received, 57 of which related to the overpass.

Forty-three of the submissions were not in favour, with 32 stating the overpass was unnecessary, largely basing their views on the current usage patterns.

The estimated cost was also a key issue, with 34 responders believing it to be excessive and unwarranted.

Council officers engaged Arcadis Pty Ltd to prepare an alternative concept plan for the overpass to take into account the concerns expressed by submitters, which came back with a reduced and current estimated cost of $17.3million.

Deputy Mayor Shelley Sutton said she was ‘‘not particularly happy with the plan’’.

‘‘I think it’s a bit too premature ... is an overpass really warranted at this stage?’’ she said.

Cr Sutton said moving the station should be a higher priority.

‘‘I’m happy to endorse this plan at this stage so as we can actually advocate for Shepparton to get a station on the other side and have something to take to the government.’’

Cr Dennis Patterson said he did not like the size or the colour of the overpass, stating this was merely part of the council’s ‘‘forward planning’’.

‘‘We were never going to pay for this,’’ he said.

Following this week’s meeting, Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said it was important for the public to know the overpass plans were received and noted. However, there were more discussions needed in regards to the station’s location.

‘‘What is the future of that station?’’she said.

‘‘I want to open the station to the CBD, I want to see more connectivity, I want to see that area more revitalised across the other side of the station.

‘‘We need to really know what the concrete plan is moving forward before we invest $17 million into a very big overpass.’’

Cr O’Keeffe said the council would lobby for better infrastructure and more train services before endorsing the concept plan for construction.