AN INDEPENDENT panel will assess VicRoads’ Horsham bypass route options after Roads Minister Terry Mulder’s decision to put two options back on the table.
Mr Mulder announced on Tuesday that Option 2, to the north-east of Horsham, and Option 5A, to the south-west of the city, would be reconsidered in response to community feedback.
“Options previously assessed to the east of Horsham, Option B2 and Option D, will remain on the table for consideration,” he said.
“As part of the assessment process, additional investigations will be carried out into environmental, heritage, social and economic matters to inform future decision-making.”
The independent panel will hear community submissions on the options and provide advice to the government.
Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty said residents were mindful of the long-term implications of any decisions that were made.
“It’s important that we get this right, because it will shape the future of Horsham for decades to come,” he said.
One Horsham bypass group acting-chairman Russell McKenzie said the group was pleased Option 2 would be reconsidered.
He said the option – suggested by the community in 2008 – was the best long-term alignment for Horsham residents and the wider community.
Option 2 was one of 14 options developed in phase one of the bypass study in 2009.
In May last year, VicRoads selected Option B2 – which cuts through Riverside, north-east of the city – as its preferred option.
Mr McKenzie said One Horsham was at a loss as to why VicRoads had come to that conclusion.
About 70 people attended a One Horsham bypass group meeting on Tuesday night, including Mr Delahunty, Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien and Horsham Mayor David Grimble.
Mr McKenzie said the group’s goals were to avoid affecting homes, cutting up farmland and traversing as little of the Wimmera River floodplain as possible.
“In Option B2, the proposed road will run through six kilometres of floodplain, including some of the deepest water of the recent floods,” he said.
Mr McKenzie said the group could not understand why VicRoads discarded Option 2 three to four years ago, despite it being well-supported by the community.
He urged Horsham residents to voice their opinions about the bypass.
“We encourage people to write to their local politicians so the likes of the Planning Minister and the Transport Minister know Mr O’Brien and Mr Delahunty have community support,” he said.