Access Denied infrastructure results

Whittlesea Leader
22 November 2016
Katrina Hinschen

Access Denied and Fund Our Future campaigns unite                                                                                                   community for infrastructure results

 

Robert Laiacona and Pinar Bof were among many young couples sold ‘the dream’ in Epping and Wollert. They signed building contracts that said transport infrastructure would be guaranteed but were still waiting back in May, 2015 and still are. Picture: RICHARD SERONG

TWO massive community campaign objectives have been fulfilled thanks to the tireless efforts of our loyal readers, community groups, Whittlesea Council and the Whittlesea Leader.

TWO massive community campaign objectives have been fulfilled thanks to the tireless efforts of our loyal readers, community groups, Whittlesea Council and the Whittlesea Leader.

The Access Denied and Fund Our Future campaigns relentlessly pursued our major political parties to commit to building the Mernda rail extension and the O’Herns Rd/Hume Freeway interchange in Epping North for the best part of two years.

The Federal Government’s commitment last week to the interchange was the final windfall needed to deliver this important road project, with Whittlesea Council and the State Government having already deposited their share.

Preparations for the Mernda rail extension are well advanced, with John Holland last week named as the construction company that will deliver the much needed piece of infrastructure.

Whittlesea Council handed over 7000 signed Access Denied postcards to Greens Leader Greg Barber to present in parliament in October, 2014. Picture: Paul Loughnan

Access Denied: Mernda Bulls Basketball Club got on board the campaign to get a train line out to Mernda back in July, 2014. Picture: Adam Elwood

CAMPAIGN PARTNERS

Access Denied, a partnership between the Leader, Whittlesea Council, the South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance, and Aurora Community Association, secured almost $1.5 billion in commitments from the Labor and Liberal parties months after its launch on March 17, 2014.

The campaign emphasised the community’s angst over traffic gridlock that was affecting families and business.

Councillors and key community representatives at the launch of the campaign in March, 2014.

Local youth rallying for the extension of the rail line to Mernda in July, 2014.

EMERGENCY CARE COMPROMISED

Paramedics told us the health of patients was being compromised because critical road infrastructure does not exist in Epping North.

We revealed traffic congestion was hampering the efforts of volunteer firefighters responding to emergencies.

Geotech geologist Catrinie Gurney with State MP Danielle Green and electoral officer Greg Balliff at survey drilling on the Mernda Rail extension in August last year. Picture: DENNIS MANKTELOW

FAMILY LIFE SUFFERING

Sports clubs cried foul as they faced membership downturns because parents found it impossible to get children to training on time.

We discovered domestic violence was linked to road congestion.

Darren Peters celebrating last week after campaigning for years for the Mernda rail extension. Picture: CARMELO BAZZANO

ECONOMIC GROWTH THREATENED

Investors and heads of big business told us economic growth in Epping North was being crippled without critical infrastructure.

Thousands of you, our readers, signed petitions to say enough was enough.

Schools backed the Fund Our Future campaign in a bid to ease the road congestion that put the community at risk during grassfires.

One Doreen commuter told us she drives in the opposite direction at the start of her trip to try and shave some valuable travel time off her journey to work in Port Melbourne.

Leisure Centre Epping owner Craig Barnes with other business owners in Miller St, Epping in 2014, concerned about growing traffic congestion in the area. Picture: DENNIS MANKTELOW

The community made enough noise and the Prime Minister heard loud and clear, including money for the O’Herns Rd interchange in a $3 billion Victorian Infrastructure Package.

We are extremely proud of these achievements. Our readers should be too.

Our politicians could no longer ignore the public frustrations vented through the two campaigns.

On behalf of the community, we thank both sides of our state and federal representatives for listening.

We will watch intently to make sure the jobs get done.

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