Trucks boss fears Hovell Street might close

EDITORIAL: Wodonga's street of discontent

COULD recent road works in Wodonga’s city centre signal that a closure of Hovell Street is still on the cards?

That’s the fear of the owner of a Wodonga transport business, who believes the reconstruction of the Lawrence and Havelock streets intersection has a deeper purpose.

Terry Walker, of Walker’s Transport Wodonga, says the new intersection, which gives traffic travelling between Havelock and High streets priority over traffic travelling west along Lawrence Street, looks to be designed with a future Hovell Street closure in mind.

But Wodonga Council said its position had not changed since voting against the closure in August last year.

The $700,000 intersection was opened about a fortnight ago, two weeks ahead of schedule.

The council said the work was to improve traffic flow in Lawrence and Havelock streets, ease traffic in High Street and improve pedestrian safety.

But Mr Walker remains suspicious.

“The way they’ve shaped it to give this street priority, it would be the obvious street you would have to take to get around,” he said.

“It looks obvious that it’s been designed with the future closure of Hovell Street in mind.”

Wodonga chief executive Patience Harrington said the council’s position had not changed since the decision at its August meeting.

The council first floated the idea of closing Hovell Street to traffic in May last year, but it was abandoned after a traders’ campaign.

But the idea was not dropped completely.

Councillors voted that some milestones must be met before any proposed closure of Hovell Street near The Cube could be put forward again.

Among them are that several major traffic works including the Elgin Boulevard realignment be completed and a major retailer must move to the Mann Centre.

Also, a further report on the design and improvements for the “civic precinct” must be tabled to the council by April 30.

Meanwhile, work on Elgin Boulevard will continue this month and the former Mann precinct is being cleared in anticipation of work starting on the new shopping centre.

For Mr Walker, whose business is based in Osburn Street, closing Hovell Street could affect his work by blocking access to local stores.

“We deliver into Coles,” he said.

“We need suitable access to get in a 19-metre semi-trailer.

“And it would go against the people’s wishes — what’s the good of having a council if they don’t listen?”

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