VICROADS has unveiled its draft route and interchange plans for the Western Highway bypass of Ararat.
The draft plan presented at a community drop-in session at Ararat RSL on Tuesday evening involved diverting the Western Highway south east of Ararat near the Warrayatkin Road intersection.
A north-bound curve would take the bypass up towards Warrack Road passing the east side of Green Hill Lake and Hopkins Correctional Facility.
After crossing Warrak Road near its Warrayatkin Road intersection, the bypass would follow Warrayatkin Road north-west.
The bypass would then curve west after the Down Road intersection and follow the angle set by New Year’s Day Road south of the Ararat Hills Regional Park and Nappy Dam.
The bypass would then rejoin the existing Western Highway either near McLoughlin’s Road and Pollard Lane or near The Majors Road and McKay’s Circuit to the north-west of Ararat.
The draft plan calls for about 15 additional kilometers of dual-lane highway and closing a section of the Pyrenees Highway.
The draft also proposed an option to build a network of highway access points and roundabouts to connect with the Caltex service station, aerodrome and main thoroughfare into Ararat.
Ararat Rural City councillors last year called for the bypass to be built as close to Ararat as possible to help maintain tourist numbers.
Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper said the community session, which he attended for an hour, was “pretty good”.
“The route is about what we expected,” he said.
“Most people that I spoke to at the session would be impacted in some way, shape or form. Whatever option is decided on, some people will be affected.
“Everybody I know in Ararat believes the bypass is needed and will be built.
“My concern is that the landowners that are impacted directly need to be treated with the utmost sympathy.”
Cr Hooper said one of this main concerns was the potential impact on the Motorcycle Club, which would end up with an extremely busy highway nearby under the draft plan.
“Seeing the full diamond interchange outlined on the aerial photos from VicRoads did give me food for thought,” he said.
“The benefits of the bypass are clear. It will improve the amenity and safety of the area.”
VicRoads chief executive John Merritt said the roads authority wanted to consult with those who were directly or indirectly impacted, as well as the wider community.
“At this stage, we have put together plans that try to incorporate the least impact on landowners but also work best in terms of functionality of the town,” he said.
“Last night’s session, with more to come, was about talking with people in the town and the community to get the next layer of insight into what might or might not work in what we are proposing.
Mr Merritt said the residents that he spoke to were generally positive and there was a huge amount of interest in the process behind the draft and in providing feedback.
“Obviously people are really interested in our thinking that has gone into the plan,” he said.
“I think that is a fantastic part of the engagement. I was really pleased to see our regional team being able to share the process of how they worked through different options and why this one is the proposed option.”
Mr Merritt said the draft plan did not have any financial commitment from the state government at this stage.
“An important part of the plan is to work out what it will cost in order for governments to consider it,” he said.
Mr Merritt said VicRoads would revisit its draft based on feedback from the community.
“It is only when engaging with communities are we able to find out about landowners with multiple titles and who actually use their properties in a joined-up way,” he said.
“The team will have to go back and consider how to improve on the proposal.”
For more information about the draft plans, call 5333 8720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the VicRoads Ararat bypass page.