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Esplanade needs urgent attention but not a “Quick Fix”

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Legislative Assembly 9 February 2022

Mr MORRIS (Mornington) (19:00): (6196) I raise a matter for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and I am seeking urgent action to ensure the continued safe passage of cars, bikes and pedestrians and management of the interaction with pedestrians on the Esplanade between Lempriere Avenue and Bruce Road in Mount Martha.

The road is like a short section of the Great Ocean Road. It was literally cut out of the side of Mount Martha. It has spectacular views, and for most of its life it carried traffic more than adequately. But of course with an increased population, lots of subdivision on the hills above it and a particular increase of people on bikes and so on, there is far, far more traffic than it has ever carried before.

It has been a problem for a number of years, but it is just getting worse and worse.

The comparison that comes to mind—every morning I walk or run across the Anderson Street bridge to South Yarra. When I was 19 or 20 I actually used to drive across it in the mornings, with all the trucks and cars going across it. It had completely outlived its usefulness at that point back in the late 1970s and early 80s.

The Esplanade is in a similar situation. The traffic it is carrying is way beyond its capacity.

There has been an issue relating to The Pillars that I have raised here on numerous occasions, and that has basically resulted in finger-pointing between the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and the former minister for roads. It is sort of, ‘It’s their fault. It’s their fault’.

That is a contributing factor, but there are frequent failures and frequent landslips, sometimes closing the road for six months at a time. I think most recently 2020 was the last one.

The other issue is the issue of the management of the road. VicRoads have been trying to offload it to the shire council for many, many years. Probably for the best part of 10 years VicRoads have been saying, ‘No, you can have it; you can have it’. The council, quite rightly, is saying, ‘We don’t believe the ratepayer should take on this sort of liability, which will probably run into millions of dollars, to stop the Esplanade slipping into the sea’.

So it is not just one issue. It is not just a traffic issue. It is not just conflict with bikes. It is the whole issue of the road between Mount Martha village and effectively Safety Beach.

This is not a quick fix. It needs some urgent attention. It needs a working party perhaps established with the council and some serious action taken, because this road is rapidly becoming a serious issue.

So I would appreciate the minister’s support with urgent action and getting something happening with this.