Beaufort Bypass: Environmental Effects Statement Predicts $5 Million in Economic Impact for Western Highway Project | The Ararat Advertiser

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The multimillion-dollar Western Highway Beaufort bypass project has reached a new milestone, with an Environmental Effects Statement revealing the potential impact on the community. Released for public comment on Monday, the SEA is the culmination of years of technical studies and consultation for the project, and estimates that Beaufort’s economy could take a hit of $5.2 million. After the submission period, the report and draft town plan amendment must be approved by the state planning minister before land acquisition and compensation can begin, which means that any construction is probably still years away. READ MORE: Report documents also say there is no construction funding yet. One currently occupied dwelling will be removed during construction, and a newly discovered scarred tree may be ‘impacted’ along the alignment, while at least 348 large trees will need to be removed. The route includes a new bridge over the Ararat rail line, three interchanges on the east and west sides of town and on the Beaufort-Lexton road, and several other waterway and road bridges. Confirmed as Regional Roads Victoria’s preferred option in 2019, the 11 kilometer, 147 hectare bypass runs north from the existing Western Highway around the city. Beaufort businesses are estimated to lose around 16% of road traffic revenue after construction, despite what the report optimistically points to as a spike during construction, particularly in accommodation. “This estimate represents the initial impact attributed to the bypass. It would be possible to reverse the losses and even increase the revenue base compared to the scenario without bypass if targeted measures are taken to broaden the attractiveness of the city for visitors and increase the residential population,” the report states. “Once the project is operational, an increase in income for local businesses due to improved facilities, safety and the township environment due to the reduction of through traffic (especially heavy vehicles) in the city ​​center is a possibility.” OTHER NEWS: The bypass is estimated to save two minutes of travel time and help stop ‘queuing’ behind slow-moving vehicles, which the report says is becoming a ‘growing’ problem. It also notes that there were nine accidents between 2016 and 2020, and “seven of these accidents occurred on the Western Highway between Smiths Lane and Martins Lane, including one fatality”. It is noted that the healed tree was found during the ground surface survey, and “(a)s construction of the project will directly impact this site and the impacts will be permanent, the impact rating on the healed tree is considered high”. “Preparation of a draft Cultural Heritage Management Plan has begun and will be completed during the detailed design phase to protect and manage all known indigenous values ​​(tangible and intangible), as well as manage any finds unexpected impact of indigenous cultural heritage identified during the construction of the project,” he says. A further 22 private landowners are expected to be “permanently impacted,” with 47 private plots to be acquired. “One dwelling has been identified as being directly impacted by the project, which will result in the displacement of existing residents,” the report said. Pyrenees Shire Council Mayor Ron Eason said the council would review the report in detail before making a formal submission. He asked that the project “includes everyone” and provides certainty with a timeline.” This is a major step forward in the process of getting the bypass up and running. ment,” he said. “It could take years, or it could happen very quickly with election promises – who knows, we’ll do whatever we can. I think most people in the city now understand that the bypass will happen, but it’s the uncertainty of not knowing when and what we should do, in addition to what will normally happen with a bypass OTHER NEWS: “Each store, each business will make their own assessment of what they should do.” The full SEA is available online and will also be in hard copy for viewing at the Beaufort Community Resource Center and Library, the Beaufort Pyrenees Shire Council office, the RRV office in Wendouree and the DELWP Ballarat office on Mair Street – residents can also request a USB drive with the documents.The public comment period ends May 13 and can be done online through Engage Victoria. you are with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Ararat advertiser. To make sure you’re up to date with all the news from across Ararat County, sign up here.


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