On the day the Goulburn bypass opened on December 4, 1992, hundreds of people thronged into Auburn Street celebrating the occasion.
As then Gilmore MP John Sharp declared, “for the first time since 1833, the people of Goulburn now owned their main street.”
The Goulburn Post editorials of the time lauded a new era, free of trucks yet full of challenges for local business formerly reliant on passing trade. Mayor of the day, Pat Fairall, said the bypass “would return Goulburn to its country lifestyle.”
It has done just that. Ironically, the CBD is busy as ever and some trucks keep coming through Auburn Street. While most heavy vehicle drivers use Sloane Street, satellite navigation systems direct the unfamiliar along Auburn Street.
They’re a hazard for pedestrians and damaging for CBD beautification works. How many times have we witnessed trucks crunching corner paving and medians? Recently the council has also planted beautiful magnolia trees. These must also be protected.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council’s move to ‘reclaim’ ownership of Auburn Street is a sensible one. Under the plan, Sloane Street would become the recognised heavy vehicle route and the council would not have to seek RMS permission for works in the main street.
It’s timely in light of improvement works that are making Auburn Street far more attractive and pedestrian friendly. Plans to link it to parallel streets through spruced up laneways will also enhance the shopping experience.
A parking strategy is also underway, along with proposals to improve safety on some feeder streets.
In the past few months the council has drafted a new outdoor dining policy, which councillors have sent back for refinement. Our main street must be free of heavy vehicles if it is to take off in earnest.
In addition, the council cannot approve some signage without RMS permission.
Auburn Street was part of the Hume Highway from 1928 until 1992. But in the city’s early days, Sloane Street was on the main southern route, with travellers carrying all manner of goods.
For our money, that’s just as it should be today. Heavy vehicles have no place in our main street and it is only right that Goulburn has greater control over its appearance, without the impost of red tape.