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Road Sealing

Local community sentiment is well-documented both by the shire and AIDA. AIDA’s questionnaires of resident viewpoints over the last thirty years, the Statement of Neighbourhood Character in the Planning Scheme, and the decisions of two council citizens’ juries on local road sealing all support the maintenance of unsealed roads.

The sealing of a road is mainly funded by a special rate or charge scheme. The adoption of the scheme assumes there is a benefit to residents, but does not take into account the benefit of retaining an unsealed road. It has been a long-held belief by AIDA that sealing of a road may be detrimental to residents due to increased traffic volumes and speed in residential streets, as well as loss of neighbourhood character.

This has been proven true where streets have been unsympathetically sealed in the past.

Update July 2012 – Sealing by Stealth

The residents of Aireys Inlet and surrounding towns have fought for many years to maintain the unsealed roads in the area. Unsealed roads slow down traffic and minimise water run-off. From an aesthetic point of view, they contribute to the coastal village atmosphere of our towns. Sealed roads lead to an increase in traffic and speed, in addition, to the suburbanisation of our towns.

Over the years the shire has sealed roads, arguing that sealed roads have reduced maintenance costs. In 2009 most of Fairhaven was sealed after a long and bitter battle with the shire. Recently, in In May 2012, Precinct 2 residents overthrew an intention to declare a special charge scheme in a first ever victory, when more than half of the residents voted against the charge to seal roads and do associated drainage works in Precinct 2.

AIDA has long argued that if the total cost of sealing is considered then regular maintenance of unsealed roads is the more economic option. However, the sticking point here is that the shire raises the initial capital cost of sealing by imposing a special charge scheme on residents for capital works. In effect, the shire offloads much of the initial cost of road sealing onto the residents. The shire’s rationale is that residents receive a benefit in having a sealed road; however, this view is not shared by many residents, who would much prefer unsealed roads that were regularly maintained.

In 2006 the Aireys Inlet road and drainage reference panel divided Aireys into precincts based on water catchment areas. Precinct 1 was most of the eastern part of Aireys on the ocean side of the Great Ocean Road with the western boundary just west of Albert Street. The reference panel recommended that no roads in Precinct 1 should be sealed, and vegetated swale drains should be installed instead of a more formal approach. This decision was fully upheld by the citizens’ jury.

The decisions of the citizens’ juries from both precincts made the residents’ views about sealing roads patently clear.

April 2012 – Road Sealing and Local Character?

The charge given to the Precinct 2 citizens’ jury by council was to determine ‘what road and drainage work do we need / want / can afford which preserves / enhances the environment.’

AIDA was deeply concerned that the proposed scope of road sealing in the Special Charge Scheme failed completely to recognise and preserve – let alone enhance – the well-documented preferred local character of our area. Informal gravel roads, vegetated nature strips and casual shared pedestrian use of roadways are central elements of the local character of Aireys Inlet to Eastern View – as recognised, we believe, by both the community and the council. Supporting this policy, and giving it extra weight, the preservation of the unique character of Victoria’s coastal townships is also an important objective of the Victorian Coastal Strategy. But this local character is under constant threat, and there are a number of challenges, circumstances and forces acting to degrade it.

For example, in the year 2000, 72 per cent of local residential roads were gravel and only 28 per cent were bituminised. But over the next five years, our gravel roads had been whittled back to 68 per cent. By 2010, on the completion of the Fairhaven Roads and Drainage Scheme (for which AIDA also opposed the sealing of roads) the proportion of our district’s residential gravel roads had been further reduced to just 55 per cent – with an associated increase of 5.5 km in bituminised residential road surfacing – all in only ten years.

The graph below illustrates this progressive bituminisation of our area’s residential streets over the past decade:


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