Council to decide on link access

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Concept plans for the eastern link.
Camera IconConcept plans for the eastern link. Credit: Busselton-Dunsborough Times

An alternative route into the CBD and quicker access to east Busselton is moving closer, with State Government departments indicating in-principle support for the so-called “eastern link” and Busselton City Council deciding its next move on Wednesday.

The eastern link will connect the stretch of Causeway Road between Strelly Street and Rosemary Drive to the portion of Peel Terrace between Stanley Place and Camilleri Street with a bridge over the Vasse River.

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley told the Times it could be up-and-running by mid-2019.

“Pending environmental approval of the concept we will be going out for tender in the new year with a 12-18 month construction period,” he said.

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The project was outlined in the Busselton Traffic Study as an alternative and more efficient route to the town centre and is expected to ease congestion at Victoria Square.

The link proposal won support from the Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but is not the preferred option for all, with recent letters to the Times pushing for the alternative Ford Road option.

The Ford Road proposal would involve the extension of the road and a 150m bridge over the river, but has twice been refused by the Environmental Protection Agency because of its proximity to the internationally recognised RAMSAR wetlands.

It’s also expected to come at a cost of $20 million.

The eastern link is expected to cost about $3.8 million, with $1.25 million coming from the Federal Government and more grants anticipated, but questions have been raised over whether it will be a suitable long-term solution.

Busselton and Districts Residents Association deputy president and secretary Vernon Bussell told the Times the association’s official position supported the Ford Road option, and said getting detailed answers to questions from the council proved “difficult and in some cases impossible to obtain”.

As a long-term resident and farmer, Mr Bussell said his personal view was while the Ford Road admittedly had environmental hurdles, they were “insignificant” compared to the eastern link plan.

“Ford Road is cleared of all major vegetation and is strategically located and it’s already a gazetted roadway that would link Causeway Road all the way through to Geographe Bay,” he said.

“The Eastern Link plan will require a huge amount of expensive fill through some of Busselton's most environmentally sensitive wetlands; unique and ancient old man tree’s, rushes, sedges and salt bush would be destroyed and the dozens of waterbirds and a multitude of other aquatic species living in the vicinity would lose their homes,” he said.

“Furthermore the unique Railway reserve walk trail would be lost, along with the historic railway reserve itself, still featuring railway lines crossing an historic culvert and the original rail bridge across the Vasse River as well.”

Cr Henley said cost, funding, environmental approvals and traffic modelling outcomes all favoured the eastern link, but environmental assessments of all traffic study options, including Ford Road, were being conducted for longer term options.

The link would be constructed over crown land that is predominantly under control of the Public Transport Authority, which offered in-principle support in September, providing a raft of conditions were met.

The City has also been advised it would likely be acceptable to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and Environmental Protection Agency, also subject to a handful of condition.

The council will vote on Wednesday whether to endorse the design and dedicate the portion of land for the eastern link as a public road.

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