Mayor says council expects bypass business case release

By James Bennett

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Seema Abdullah is expecting the Shepparton Bypass business case to be released and funding allocated in the October state budget.

That would mean a second Goulburn River crossing and pave the way to a better south-north truck route.

Cr Abdullah said Major Road Projects Victoria merged the Shepparton Bypass stage one, Ford and Wanganui roads and Shepparton Alternative Route business cases into one.

She said it was in preparation for what council expected to be funding in the October budget.

“All of these three business cases have been merged into the Shepparton Bypassing business case,” she said.

“It is currently being prepared for consideration in future state budgets, so that's what we're expecting, that there would be something coming out of the October state government budget.

“It's not about just in case, it's about we have done all the hard work to get to the point where we have; the feasibility study design report was prepared and the draft report was completed in mid-2019.

“So, now, there's been a change in a sense that the responsibility for planning and designing major roads in Shepparton has been transferred to Major Roads Victoria.

“That organisation is now responsible for merging the business cases and presenting a business case for the Shepparton bypass to the state government.”

When asked by the News if council expected the business case to be released before October, Cr Abdullah said: "The expectation is the business case, that is currently being prepared, it's released and accordingly there are some funding allocations in the budget.

“That's what we're expecting and that's what we understood from our conversations.”

But despite Cr Abdullah's statement, the Department of Transport is remaining tight-lipped on the matter.

It would not confirm when the business case would be released or if there would be a funding allocation in October.

As part of the stage one funding agreement, the Federal Government must pay 80 per cent of the cost, for which it already committed $208 million.

A Victorian Government spokesperson told the News the Federal Government's commitment was "nowhere near enough to get the project done".