By Brendan Rees
The owner of a family-run nursery in Hampton Park fears the possibility of closing his doors if a major roads authority does not play fair.
The State Government’s Hallam Road Upgrade – which will add an extra lane in each direction between Ormond Road and South Gippsland Highway – will involve the compulsory acquisition of land at the front of Diacos’ Family Discount and Garden Rock Supplies.
Anthony Diaco, who manages the business with his father Vince, spoke to Star News last year with his concern about a right-hand turn into his business being removed as part of the roadworks.
He said his business, which depended on 400-600 deliveries a week, would be inconvenienced by having to conduct de-tours.
Mr Diaco says he’s tried “to come up with a scenario” with Major Road Projects Authority (MRPA) – only to be “knocked on the head straight away.”
“There’s no dialogue anymore,” he added.
“It won’t be the business that it is today and that’s very disappointing because we’ve spent a lot of money, a lot of hard work.”
Adding to his frustration is the speed limit on Hallam Road will be increased from 60km/h to 80km/h.
“It’s going to make this road very unsafe,” Mr Diaco said. “We’re doing a lot of deliveries; we want to make it safe.”
According to MRPA, improving safety was a key priority for the project as 22 crashes on Hallam Road were recorded since 2012.
“The newly upgraded road environment along with high usage by heavy vehicles and limited entry and exit points along this route warrant a revised speed limit,” an MRPA statement said.
Mr Diaco said the loss of the right-turn would also see a drop in customers.
“There’s no way I would’ve invested this money, I would’ve relocated because access it’s very important for this business,” he said.
Mr Diaco added he does not want compensation: “It takes so long to get it, it’s a process and then you’ve got to spend more money to get it. It’s not that straight forward.”
MRPA program director Brendan Pauwels said the project would improve safety for the “thousands of people that travel along Hallam Road or the South Gippsland Highway every day.”
“We’re installing new traffic lights to help drivers safely turn in and out of Hallam Road or Evans Road and the South Gippsland Highway,” he said.