MP calls for quick fix to coastal road

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esplanade collapseMORNINGTON MP David Morris has called on the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jeanette Powell, to help speed up repair of the Esplanade at Mt Martha.

Speaking in the parliament, Mr Morris asked Ms Powell for “prompt action [to be] taken to complete a cultural heritage management plan required for road repairs”.

It is mandatory in Victoria to have a cultural heritage management plan (CHMP) for works in areas of known Aboriginal cultural heritage.

The coast at Mt Martha was used by the Boon wurrung people prior to European settlement and is a registered cultural heritage site. There is evidence of middens (the remains of shellfish eaten by tribespeople).

Such plans are required where there would be significant ground disturbance by machinery in the course of grading, excavating, digging, dredging or ripping to a depth of 60cm or more.

The important coast road was closed on 4 June – more than 16 weeks ago – after heavy rain caused a landslip.

Residents and tourists have been forced to make a long detour up the mountain on Hearn and Bradford roads.

Mr Morris said rain over the past two years or more had significantly impacted the Esplanade at a number of points.

“In the past two or three years there have been at least two significant collapses prior to this year’s collapse, which is, from what I can see, probably the worst of the lot.”

(The News reported the two collapses: the road was closed for weeks in mid-2010 following a slide near Bruce Rd that required complete restoration of the road. There was another collapse closer to Mt Martha in March 2011.)

Mr Morris told parliament people were being forced to travel three times as far as they normally would.

“This is a site of some sensitivity. It has certainly been a site of interest to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria and the Aboriginal people for some years. We need a cultural heritage management plan prepared in order to enable VicRoads to begin to undertake the necessary repairs,” he said.

“Obviously the quicker the management plan can be prepared, the quicker VicRoads can start to get machinery on site and undertake works.”

Last Thursday week, Mr Morris told The News he had asked in July about the progress of the CHMP.

He said a plan was expected from VicRoads in the “near future and would be quickly considered”.

Mr Morris said Ms Powell had told him the VicRoads plan would be processed in two weeks instead of the usual four.

The latest landslip is at the end of a gully between Ian Rd and Fairbairn Ave.

The steep gully starts at Mt Martha Park and runs under the road and into Port Phillip.

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