IT SEEMED a simple question, when the phone rang this week.
Did we realise how many lanes would be on our new $280 million bridge (a bridge we all know will top $300 million by the time we go through a few overruns and assorted industrial/climate challenges)?
Well of course we did – two each way. We had even seen the VicRoads video, with the two lanes each way snaking across the countryside.
Wrong. So wrong.
If we had watched until the end we might have noticed as the road rises to the bridge its two lanes magically become one.
Hang on, don’t we already have a bridge with one lane each way?
Which is where all the complaints, concerns and chorus of controversy began.
Fifty years ago.
So after all that, after all the lobbying, moaning, groaning, pleading, whining, posturing and politicking we have simply got an incredibly expensive replica.
Heaven help us all once the populous truly grasps this, because after two days of walking up and down Hare St asking locals the vote was overwhelmingly that everyone knew it was two lanes each way.
By overwhelming we mean 100 per cent on the first day and all but two on the second.
All of which truly begs the question: Is this the best possible investment Echuca-Moama can get for somewhere between $280 million and $300 million?
If we took that money spectacular things could be achieved.
For example, we could provide 1000 homes for the homeless.
We could turn ERH into regional Australia’s finest teaching hospital – with change.
Better still, we could give every man, woman and child in the twin towns $14,000 each. Imagine the dent that would make in credit cards, power bills and general financial wellbeing.
So in the past year an office straw poll at the Riv could only come up with a few occasions when gridlock really hurt.
There was the tree that fell.
A couple of times during Southern 80 and a couple of accidents. That number could go up if you were unlucky enough to be caught behind a combine harvester or similar mega-machinery.
So rounding that up to 10 occasions – and let’s be honest, none of us were there for all 10 – that’s around $28 million per traffic jam. Yes, yes, we could times that by 50 but that’s all history.
In Melbourne or Sydney you can have a traffic snarl that costs hours. Every day, without fail.
Driving across the river at 10-15km/h because traffic is crowded is still driving. It does not turn the towns into a carpark the way it does in capitals.
So when you next marvel at your weekly tax loss, it might pay to think about how much you have howled for a stunningly expensive escape valve for so few serious occasions.