THE proposed orbital road in Port Macquarie, designed to ease the region's increasing traffic congestion into the future, is not a done deal.
The issue, following extensive consultation, will be presented to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in June for a decision. That decision will confirm if the proposal moves forward to more strategic planning, taking in all the feedback submitted by the community; if it goes back to the drawing board, or if council ditches the idea completely.
That's the state of play, according to group manager for community place Lucilla Marshall, who led the first of six community information sessions on the proposal on March 2 at the Westport Club.
The proposed orbital road consists of the collective east-west link (Ocean Drive to Oxley Highway), the north-south Link (Oxley Highway to Boundary Street) and the flood-free primary airport access road.
Council says it is a new approach to improving the road network in and around Port Macquarie, specifically in the health and education precinct, at the airport and the Regional Sports Stadium while also alleviating traffic congestion.
"What we are trying to do is get as much community feedback as possible at this stage on the proposal," Ms Marshall explained.
"This is an engineered route only, it doesn't take into account people and that's why we are now calling on people to provide feedback."
Feedback on the proposal close on March 30 and already council has received more than 400 submissions after hosting similar action group meetings and drop-in sessions with key stakeholders.
Council says the drop-in sessions have been scheduled at various times, including during the day, after business hours and on weekends to make sure everyone has the chance to drop in and have their say.
We missed an opportunity in '85 and again in 2005 so now we really need to work on better outcomes for our entire community.Council's group manager, Lucilla Marshall
Ms Marshall said now is the time for council and residents to work together to determine the best way forward to ensure the residential communities of Port Macquarie-Hastings are connected into the future.
"We missed an opportunity in '85 and again in 2005 so now we really need to work on better outcomes for our entire community," she added.
We are in a house we really love now and need to consider whether or not we will stay there.Resident Peter Goldsmith
Greenmeadows residents Barry George and Peter Goldsmith are concerned not enough has been done to inform residents directly impacted by the proposed route which they believe won't make any difference to the heavy flow of traffic heading into and out of the town centre during peak morning and afternoon periods.
They are disappointed council did not act on a plan back in 2008 and say affected residents on the proposed route deserve more consideration.
"We are in a house we really love now and need to consider whether or not we will stay there," Mr Goldsmith said.
"It (our house) has been devalued by 15 to 20 per cent."
The need for an east-west road corridor was first identified in the 1980s as part of the planning for urban growth at Lighthouse Beach and the Innes Peninsula. The concept of an outer link was formally recognised in 2002, as part of the Hastings Roads and Traffic Study.
Since then, the proposed orbital road was examined in 2008, and re-introduced in May 2015. Following the council’s unanimous decision in May 2015 to proceed with investigation and planning, an engineering feasibility study was conducted by Opus International Consultants in 2016, producing the current proposed corridor.
The community can attend the drop-in sessions at any time during the set three-hour period to learn more about the project, with council’s technical and community engagement teams’ being available to answer questions.
Community members who can’t make a drop-in session but would like to learn about the project and provide feedback can visit council's website which provides a range of project information, including frequently asked questions, a project information brochure and a place to submit direct on-line feedback.
In addition to the drop-in sessions and feedback via the website, the community are being encouraged to complete an online survey to further gather views held by the community on the proposed Orbital Road.
“The proposal of an Orbital Road is a huge opportunity for Port Macquarie as we continue to grow as a regional city, and Council is committed to engaging with our community on important projects like this so we can make the best possible decisions based on the interests and concerns of our community,” Cr Pinson said.
“All community members interested in the project are encouraged to come along and attend one of the drop-in sessions, complete the survey and visit our website to learn more and provide us with your valuable feedback.”
The next community information drop-in session times are:
- Session 2 – Tuesday March 5, 11am – 2pm - Emerald Downs Community Centre
- Session 3 – Tuesday March 5 , 5:30pm – 8:30pm - Westport Club – Hastings Room
- Session 4 – Saturday March 9, 11am – 2pm - Emerald Downs Community Centre
- Session 5 – Tuesday March 12, 11am – 2pm - Westport Club – Hastings Room
- Session 6 – Tuesday March 12, 5:30pm – 8:30pm - Westport Club – Hastings Room
For more information and to complete the online survey visit haveyoursay.pmhc.nsw.gov.au/orbitalroad