A proposed replacement bridge in Glenrowan - part of the inland rail project - should not go ahead as is, according to residents and tourism businesses.
Australian Rail Track Corporation's design for a bridge in a new location at Beaconsfield Parade has been criticised for cutting through the Ned Kelly siege site and making access and safety harder for visitors and operators.
But the ARTC says this preferred option, necessary because the existing bridge's clearance is too low for double-stacked freight trains, is based on feedback from stakeholders, community members, heritage specialists and Heritage Victoria.
Glenrowan Improvers president Helen Senior said until a small informal meeting last week ARTC had not discussed the plan with her volunteer group for more than a year and the timing of a previous late afternoon public event hadn't suited many working residents.
"I don't believe they've consulted the community properly and they haven't sourced every avenue properly," she said.
"I want them to address every single possible alternative.
"Glenrowan is a tourist town now ... it is going to affect the tourists, it's going to affect the businesses and that's what I'm concerned about."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Mrs Senior said the plan would also increase traffic near Glenrowan Primary School, roads already far busier with school buses, caravans and quarry trucks than when the original bridge was built.
"We've got one chance at this to get it right," she said.
"I want to make sure every 'i' is dotted and every 't' is crossed to make it right because it's for our future generation too."
Mrs Senior said Wednesday's meeting with ARTC representatives was cordial but provided no new information.
An ARTC spokesman told The Border Mail the preferred option had undergone technical and heritage assessments and was considered the best alternative for protecting the precinct's heritage and community aspirations for the area.
The project would be considered under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act and the corporation encouraged people to visit the Environment Department website and record their comments.
"ARTC has spoken with many residents in Glenrowan over the past 18 months who support our option, with their feedback telling us it will maintain accessibility to the school and the Ned Kelly siege area, as well as continue connectivity to local businesses," he said.
"In order to achieve the best possible outcome, ARTC continues to engage with the wider community on a solution which meets our scope and budget."
Jesse Sanderson and Bob Hempel, of Ned Kelly's Last Stand Animatronic Theatre, and Neville and Sheree Hughes, of Billy Tea Rooms, said the proposed bridge would be detrimental to preserving the town's heritage, with most businesses relying on tourism.
"The fact the new overpass will be built virtually on top of our building will also destroy the integrity of our business and production," they said in a joint letter.
"A lot of time, effort and expense has been put into our businesses and the overpass will destroy all of this."
The loss of bus parking space under the plan would also make tourist attractions less accessible for older visitors unable to walk far, they said.
Glenrowan historian Gary Dean said ARTC's present design was "completely unacceptable".
"Not only from an historic perspective, but due to its impact on local businesses, the blocking of access to Siege Street, and the visual and structural impact right through the centre of the former siege site," he said in a submission.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.