More than 20 properties could be affected by Geraldton bypass investigation corridor
Landowners were not warned about shock changes to the route of an investigation corridor which will affect more than 20 properties, with consultation only starting after the State had publicly announced the new route.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti last week announced a new corridor for the southern section of the future Dongara-Geraldton-Northampton bypass had been chosen, with the changes expected to save at least six homes which would have been affected by the previous route.
In all, 21 properties fall within the new corridor, with a Main Roads spokesperson saying the number of homes affected by the plan has reduced significantly.
“All landowners affected by the realigned route are being contacted directly by Main Roads. Individual meetings are being scheduled with these landowners and this will continue until all landowners who want a meeting with the planning study team have had this opportunity,” the spokesperson said.
“The alignment selection is the first phase of the planning process. Once the preferred corridor is confirmed and endorsed by the State Government, an alignment definition study can commence to define a road reservation within the corridor and provide certainty for landowners.
“This planning work will include detailed surveys and ground investigations, environmental and heritage studies and further consultation with stakeholders and landowners.”
But Main Roads had met with just seven landowners about the proposal at time of print, with 12 more meetings currently booked over the next two weeks. Consultation did not start until June 22, the same day the new route was released to the public.
Discussions are expected to explore the possibility of compensation for affected landowners, but a Main Roads spokesperson said this process does not usually start until the project is funded and ready for construction.
“Main Roads will seek funding for this project from the State and Federal governments, when it is appropriate,” they said.
“Main Roads may consider early acquisition (of compensation) on a hardship basis on a case by case basis.”
The City of Greater Geraldton introduced a last-minute motion at Tuesday’s council meeting to address community concern about the revised route.
Passed without opposition, the motion directed the City to pressure Main Roads and the State Government to provide clarity on why the proposed route was selected, when the route will be formalised so the compensation process could be triggered, and how the Moonyoonooka Store would be affected by the project.
City chief executive Ross McKim said he did not recall the new route ever being presented as an option during the years of consultation on the project, with the local government learning of the changes the same time as the general public.
“It would be very upsetting for the landowners who found out via a media release that (Main Roads) are proposing to put a road through your property,” he said.
“It is great to see they have avoided the water infrastructure and the flooding issues that were pointed out to them on the last route . . . but as to why this one is better than the other ones, I can’t advise you.”
Mayor Shane Van Styn was concerned the shock announcement could force the years-long consultation process to start all over again, saying he was at a loss as to why the State had not discussed the new route with the City and landowners prior to last week’s announcement.
“To have what is possibly in theory and on paper the single largest invasive project north of Perth for the next decade not be talked about, not even with the landowners, is just not acceptable,” he said.
“Why wouldn’t you want to consult the community about putting roads over water courses and peoples houses? If we ran a local government like that we would be dismissed.”
The council will also request information about the construction program for the northern section of the bypass route, but a Main Roads spokesperson said it was not yet known when works would start.
“It depends on further development work to be completed and State and Federal funding for construction,” they said.
Work on the southern section of the route is not expected to start before 2035.
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