Hovell Street closure off the radar

WODONGA Council is moving ahead with a plan to install a raised zebra crossing in Hovell Street between Woodland Grove and The Cube.

Councillors last night voted 5-2 for a $80,000 re-configuration of the “push button” crossing to one where pedestrians will have right of way.

The decision indicates the original controversial plan to close the southern end of Hovell Street has been set aside.

Former mayor Mark Byatt voted against the new crossing, preferring another option considered by the council to have removable barriers allowing for the temporary closure of the street for major events.

“I cannot see the value or the benefit in allocating effectively $80,000 ... to provide what already exists, which is a pedestrian crossing,” he said.

Cr Byatt said the council needed to wait for the completion of Elgin Boulevard’s realignment before considering Hovell Street’s issue.

Cr Lisa Mahood also voted against the move.

Voting in favour, Cr Anna Speedie said the crossing was the first step in developing the “heart of the city”.

“It’s a very important part because it actually crosses (sic) people into our civic area,” she said.

“It’s important for their safety and the whole amenity of that area and its use by the community.”

Cr Speedie said the Elgin Boulevard and High Street works had already forced people to change the way they moved around the city.

“There’s actually more people out on our footpaths on High Street,” she said.

“It’s important that we continue to nurture that change.”

Cr John Watson said the zebra crossing was a cheaper option to get a result similar to closing Hovell Street.

Cr Michael Fraser said: “I think it’s an important move in making sure we are clear and consistent with the message the CBD is changing and the pedestrians will have priority.”

Mayor Rod Wangman said the zebra crossing move met the requirements for the pedestrian improvements the council had previously agreed on.

The other four options offered to the council were no change; the installation of retractable bollards for temporary street closures; the removal of a centre median strip and introduction of a shared zone, and removal of southbound traffic.

The works will begin after Elgin Boulevard is realigned.