HORSHAM council’s decision this week to hit pause on a proposal to build a second pedestrian bridge over the Wimmera River has prompted a renewed debate among residents.
There’s no doubt that the Anzac Centenary Bridge, built near Apex Adventure Island and opened in September, has been a welcome addition to our city.
While eyebrows were raised over the cost and time required to build that infrastructure – somewhat due to the original contractor going into administration – the bridge is well utilised, it connects residents living south of the river to the city’s northern river tracks and shopping precinct and it’s aesthetically pleasing.
But the council, at its latest meeting, did not endorse the start of preliminary detailed plans for a second pedestrian bridge near the vicinity of Hamilton Street.
The council will instead revisit an integrated transport strategy to help it identify the highest priorities for the urban area.
The strategy examines congestion issues in and near the city centre, connections to residential growth areas and how a proposed Horsham bypass will affect links to regional highways.
That decision appears to have gained strong support from residents – many of whom questioned why a pedestrian bridge would be prioritised over a traffic bridge.
A second traffic bridge over the Wimmera River is no small project and it would certainly require a wider involvement than Horsham council alone.
But residents – particularly those living in the streets off Williams Road – have rightfully raised concerns about the traffic congestion they experience in their area, particularly at peak times. They believe a traffic bridge is a more pressing issue than the ability to walk across the river.
For anyone who has travelled in the vicinity of Stawell Road before and after work or school times will know how congested that area can become.
Certainly, as real estate agent Gerry Smith says, that traffic volume is relatively normal for a city the size of Horsham.
But council’s own data shows more than 20,000 vehicles utilise the Wimmera River bridge every day.
And the housing development south of the river will only continue to grow.
What tops your list of transport priorities for Horsham?
Jessica Grimble, editor