Perimeter road funded, but main street still unclear

Taelor PeluseyAugusta Margaret River Times

Margaret River’s main street development is set to clear its biggest planning hurdle with this week’s commitment to the perimeter road, but a cloud will linger over the project until next month’s State Budget.

Many years and much uncertainty later, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti this week announced the 7km $36 million perimeter road project was due for completion in December, 2018.

And while Shire of Augusta-Margaret River estimates earlier this year raised questions about whether the project would reduce traffic on the rapidly growing town’s main strip — about 15 per cent of vehicles are expected to shift from the highway— there’s little argument the project creates room for the main street development to begin.

Shire acting infrastructure services director Peter Brown told the Times no works would begin until the perimeter road was completed, but planning and community engagement would continue.

“A detailed program of events and activities associated with the main street construction is yet to (be) confirmed; however, at this stage, the Shire is planning for construction activities to commence as soon as practicable after the opening of the Perimeter Road,” he said.

Despite the Shire’s perceived optimism, the State Government could yet claw back the $5 million earmarked for the $8.3 million project through the Royalties for Regions-funded SuperTowns program, currently under review.

The Shire of Manjimup was notified earlier this month it was required to return its $3 million of SuperTowns funding.

Warren Blackwood MLA Terry Redman, who was regional development minister when the funding was approved, said the McGowan Government had given “no confidence at all” the main street project would be honoured.

“The minister for transport has said completion of the perimeter road will enable the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to commence its planned redevelopment of the town centre; this does not shed any light on the $5 million of Royalties for Region approved by the last government, and an essential component to the project,” he said.

“Anything less will be a serious compromise.”

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan previously told the Times the wide-scale review of RFR was not an “attack on the bush”, but necessary given the State’s finances.

A decision is expected next month.

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