Light at the end roadworks tunnel

Officer's roadworks are expected to start wrapping up in the next 4-6 weeks.

Officer residents could be saying so long to the town’s ongoing roadworks as the multiple upgrades are expected to wind up in the coming weeks.

The roadworks have become an eyesore for not just locals, but Cardinia shire residents due to the bottlenecks and endless traffic it created.

The numerous upgrades, which have included Bayview Road and Princes Highway and Tivendale Road and Princes Highway intersection, Brunt Road and Station Street, have largely been plagued by ongoing delays due to a range of factors including workforce shortages, approvals and weather conditions.

But it looks like it’ll be a thing of the past.

The Pakenham Gazette spoke with Cardinia Shire Mayor, Jack Kowarzik and Peter Benazic, general manager infrastructure and environment, to discuss when the community could expect the works to end and clear up concerns.

According to Mr Kowarzik, the good news is that works are expected to be finished in the next 4-6 weeks, albeit weather dependent.

“I can certainly understand the community being frustrated with how long things have taken, initially it was scheduled to finish at the end of the year (2023) and we know where we’re at now,” he said.

One of the positives Mr Kowarzik highlighted was that the community had not shied away from reaching out to councillors about their concerns, which they were able to relay to council and see projects fast tracked as well as night works ramp up.

Mr Benazic highlighted that council had been working hard to minimise disruptions.

“Obviously with all that, there’s approvals from the state, if it’s not our road, anything we do we need to go through an approval process through the department,” Mr Benazic said.

“And sometimes that can be a little bit protracted.”

According to Mr Benazic, both Bayview and Tivendale Road intersections should be finished soon, with Bayview waiting for Ausnet activation.

“It’s quite a process that officers need to go through to get electrical audits and then making sure they are ticked off by the state department,” he said.

“We’re really mindful though that we’re activating and using all our available influence to try and get those lights turned on as quickly as we can.”

It was also noted that council had also tried hard for access to be maintained for affected businesses, with plans for supports to be introduced.

The Gazette queried as to why all the works had seemingly begun at the same time.

Mr Kowarzik noted that Officer had ‘fortunately’ received significant state funding which was “a long time coming”.

“That’s (funding) been a trigger for us to implement some of those intersection upgrades as part of the precinct structure plan,” he said.

“Aligning those works is absolutely a challenge and it’s something we will be looking to improve.

“But when I talk to people about any sort of major works, there’s always a pretty even split about whether you do it staged over time or do it all at once and get it out the way.

“There’s always a balance trying to get that right, it’s a challenge and we understand why people are frustrated with the sheer amount of roadworks, but I think that’s what we try to capitalise on getting things done together.”

With different authorities being responsible for certain works, Mr Benazic said he understood why the community would be confused.

“We work really hard to ensure that there’s the best possible coordination so we minimise disruption; we do have a traffic team that does that,” he said.

“Sometimes state projects take a bit of precedence and we don’t necessarily have full control over the other agencies, but we do talk in terms of making sure that people have got access where they possibly can, so we don’t gridlock the whole entire city.”

But ultimately, once the works are all done and dusted, it is hoped it will attract more investment into the town and encourage further development.