A council proposal to close Bowers Rd between Winton-Glenrowan Rd and the Hume Fwy is being opposed by concerned residents who feel their connection to Benalla will be severed.
The proposal to close the short stretch of road was tabled following a tragic double fatality in May of last year, when a car was T-boned when turning onto the freeway.
However, residents fear that the idea is simply a knee-jerk reaction to a crash that many claim was an anomaly caused by a number of factors, including the driver’s age and inadequate signage leading into the junction.
Local homeowner Richard Tivendale told the Ensign the closure of that section of road would essentially end his connection to a community he has been part of for decades.
‘‘When I go to Benalla I go from the old Hume Hwy (Winton-Glenrowan Rd) onto the Hume Fwy and into Benalla,’’ Mr Tivendale said.
‘‘If they close that road we have no easy access to Benalla. That means I would have to drive to Glenrowan to cross over and head to Benalla, but by that stage I’d be closer to Wangaratta.
‘‘So if I need to go shopping or plan to go to a cafe it would make sense to do that in Wangaratta.’’
Mr Tivendale said while the closure of Bowers Rd would likely lead to him using Wangaratta businesses more frequently, the real issue would be his connections in Benalla.
He and his wife are a part of the Benalla community and feel the proposed closure would mean they would get less opportunity to visit friends and family.
Mr Tivendale and his wife were among a number of people who attended the Benalla Rural City Council meeting of the planning and development committee on January 31 to voice their opinions.
Every public speaker at that meeting spoke in favour of keeping Bowers Rd open.
On that day Mr Tivendale told the council there were several options to improve safety at the junction that would not require the road to be closed.
‘‘When you approach the junction there is a give-ay sign, then a sign saying ‘look right’ and then another giveway sign,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t know who decided on a giveway sign, but it needs a stop sign.
‘‘Cars need to be brought to a stop at that junction. If a driver is not from the area they’re probably not expecting trucks to fly past at 110km/h.
‘‘There is great visibility in both directions when you pull up at the intersection and I don’t see a reason why it is less safe than similar junctions.’’
There are similar intersections along the length of the Hume Fwy and it is fair to say that many have less visibility than the one at Bowers Rd.
According to council documents they received 73 submissions on the proposed road closure.
Of the submissions received 54 objected and only 15 agreed that it should be closed.
Council documents show that as well as suggesting stop-signs another theme was the need for a slip-road onto the freeway.
The council is no longer accepting submissions on the proposal.
The issue will next be discussed at the planning and development meeting scheduled for February28.