VICROADS is trying to offload the Esplanade onto Mornington Peninsula Shire.
The shire and VicRoads have been discussing the status of shire roads for many months but councillors were briefed for the first time last week.
VicRoads can force the shire to take ownership of the so-called government road but it appears the roads authority is adopting a conciliatory approach.
The state government authority has told the shire it wants to downgrade the Esplanade’s status from an arterial to a local road, and give it to the shire.
It told the shire the road is mainly used by locals but it is common knowledge the summer season sees many tourists driving along the winding, coast road between Mornington and Mt Martha.
VicRoads and the shire are discussing several options about “ownership” of the Esplanade.
One is that the shire would take over the one-kilometre section between Main St, Mornington, and Wilsons Rd.
A second option is between Main St and just before Balcombe Creek at Mt Martha.
Option three covers the entire road between Main St and Bruce Rd, Safety Beach (the Esplanade’s name changes to Marine Drive at Ellerina Road West).
VicRoads said it would take financial responsibility for “geotechnical” problems (that is, landslips) for the whole road as well as the road tunnel under the entrance to Martha Cove marina, formerly Tassells Creek.
There have been three major landslips along the Esplanade since 2010, caused by the failure of old terracotta drainage pipes under the road as well as more stormwater coming off Mt Martha due to recent housing development as well as good rain since the 13-year drought ended in 2010.
The landslips occurred in August 2010, March 2011 and mid-2012.
A government source said the Esplanade was “not in first class condition by a long shot”.
The shire would need to ensure any agreement with VicRoads to take over the road was set in “rolled gold”.
Talks between VicRoads and the shire about peninsula roads have included Main St, Mornington.
The News understands the shire has asked VicRoads to hand over the town’s main shopping street so the shire can progress its Mornington structure plan.
Main St has been a government road since the early days, before councils were created.
The wide footpaths in front of shops built since the 1960s exist because VicRoads once had plans to significantly widen the street.