Three possible routes for the Beaufort Bypass have been unveiled for public comment this week.
Beaufort residents packed out two meetings to discuss VicRoads’ three preferred options for a northern bypass of the town.
There were 150 people at two sessions, on Friday last week and Monday, as part of community consultation for the project.
All three routes cross Racecourse Road, Beaufort-Lexington Road, Main Lead Road and the Ballarat Rail Line.
Pyrenees Shire and Beaufort Ward Councillor Michael O’Connor said none of the options were openly discarded by the residents who attended the meetings.
“The overall feeling is is that it will be good for Beaufort, but there are a lot of things that need to happen,” he said.
“There was probably concern that the one closest to the town would create the most disruption to property and perhaps create noise.
“So maybe that was not overly preferred, but it was not openly discarded.”
Pyrenees Shire Council has not released a preferred option and will wait to see the result of community consultation.
Mayor Ron Eason said council would continue to be briefed by VicRoads as the planning progressed.
“We believe the community consultation was designed so the community could give feedback back to VicRoads,” he said.
“They can put that into the Environmental Effects Statement and come back with a preferred alignment.”
VicRoads’ regional director Ewen Nevett said the consultation was part of the environmental effects statement for the planning process.
“The community sessions were a starting point for discussions about the options we’ve developed,” he said.
“We had in-depth conversations about complex issues and impacts the bypass options may have on landowners, residents and the town.
“Other key themes from our discussions were around project time-frames, where we are in the planning process, access and connection points and how people can be involved.
“From here, we’ll continue with detailed technical studies and will use the findings, along with feedback, to refine the draft route options.
“We expect to discuss the refined options with the community in mid to late 2017.”
Community members who missed the two meetings can still provide their input on bypass options online.
Residents can Google search ‘engagevicroads Beaufort bypass’ to find the site.
Mr Nevett said the online website EngageVicRoads is another way for people to have input on the three draft route options.
“We understand there are people who couldn’t make it to the sessions and want to have their say on the route options and work we’ve done so far,” he said.
“The EngageVicRoads webpage gives people the opportunity to comment, share ideas and see what others have said about issues that are important to them by using the interactive map online.
Comment during the consultation is open until May 21.
Mr Nevett said a bypass would improve road safety, freight efficiency and safety in Beaufort by taking trucks out of the town centre.
“A bypass would build on what we’ve already delivered, including the duplication and upgrade of 55 kilometres of the Western Highway, from two lanes to four between Ballarat and Buangor,” he said.
“We want to deliver the Beaufort Bypass and connect it to the upgraded sections of the Western Highway.