Eighty-one-year-old Anna-Maria Gjocaj can’t sleep.
- A number of houses in the Hobart suburb of Dynnyrne will be bulldozed in a proposed plan to widen the Southern Outlet
- Residents say they feel left in the dark in the consultation process
- Homes near the construction could also be impacted by damage from blasting works
The home she has lived in for the past 46 years appears set to be demolished to make way for a highway extension in Southern Tasmania.
“It’s devastating,” she said of the prospect of losing the home in the Hobart suburb of Dynnyrne.
“At night time I am thinking about the past and what I went through.”
She said she worked two jobs and raised her two sons in the home she appears likely to lose.
“All my life I worked and put it [money] into the house and now they’re going to take it and destroy … no I can’t take it. I can’t handle it.”
Some of her close neighbours have recently been given an unofficial indication from the Department of State Growth that their houses would be demolished to make way for a fifth lane for the Southern Outlet.
But the octogenarian said her future remained in limbo.
Her son Alex Gjocaj described the process as “bullshit”.
“We’ve just heard that some people have been advised that their houses are going but we still didn’t get a definite answer,” he said.
“How do you put a price on a home? It’s not a house, it’s not an investment. It’s a home.”
“I think the government needs to watch the movie The Castle because that’s what’s happening to us.”
Residents at first angry, now stressed
The government department responsible said it would not comment due to “privacy” reasons.
In March this year, households in Dynnyrne Road were told of a plan to construct a fifth lane on the outlet, between Olinda Grove and Macquarie Street, for northbound traffic.
A letter written to residents said a transit lane would be used for buses, taxis and emergency services vehicles and private vehicles carrying three or more occupants, and the “proposed design requires more space than the existing road corridor permits”.
What followed was months of uncertainty, according to resident Meg Smith, who set up the group SOS Hobart 2021, in support of Dynnyrne Road residents.
But Ms Smith said after recent meetings with senior government officials, including Transport Minister Michael Ferguson, residents were told the project was going ahead, with public consultation to follow and works to start at the end of next year.
“At last we know there are probably about 10 residents who will lose their homes and possibly other residents that will lose part of their property,” Ms Smith said.
“People have gone through being angry and now they’re just really stressed, they haven’t been sleeping, they’re really frightened about what the future will hold for them.
“Even with an ultra-generous payout there’s just nowhere for people to go that want to remain near friends and families, and schools and work.”
‘Our pets are buried in the backyard’
David Masterton said he and his wife Lilian had been given an unofficial indication from State Growth that his house was likely to be demolished to make way for the fifth lane.
“This has been fairly painful. It’s stressful,” he said.
Mr Masterton is worried about finding a home in an already hot real estate market.
“It feels like the market at the moment is monopoly money, the numbers are just crazy.”
He said no timeline had been given as to when their house would go and how they would be compensated financially.
Dennis, who didn’t want to share his surname, said he had also been given an indication his home of 40 years would be one of the ones to go.
“Our daughter grew up there, our pets are buried in the yard,” he said.
“I did everything to make it low maintenance ready for retirement.
“Now I’ve retired and it’s going to be taken away from me.”
Extra lane to shave two-minutes off drive
Residents were sent a two-page report on the benefits of the extra lane and time savings for the trip from Olinda Grove to Elizabeth Street.
“By their own research there’s only a two-minute savings for cars and that’s only for about 40 minutes in the morning and there’s a three-minute time savings for buses and that’s only for an hour in the morning,” Ms Smith said.
“It is a dinosaur approach to a modern-day problem.”
Ms Smith said residents were also told there could be a broader impact on surrounding houses due to blasting that could cause damage.
A petition against the project has more than 1,400 signatures and is due to be presented in state parliament in November.
In a statement, a state growth department spokesperson said any negotiations with possibly affected property owners were ongoing and the department would “continue to engage sensitively, respectfully and individually”.
“The Department of State Growth does not comment on the details of potential property acquisition noting the potentially affected individuals’ right to privacy,” the statement said.
“Any negotiations regarding acquisition of the property are a matter for the property owners, the department and the Office of the Valuer General.
“We engage with potentially affected residents, landowners and stakeholders first, before we go to the broader community.”
A government spokesman said “the number of properties that may be impacted is fewer than some have predicted”.
“The department has been engaging with residents on a one-on-one basis and providing all available support and information,” he said.
“Expert advice says that the extra lane on the southern outlet is required to ensure that public transport is actually able to be prioritised from the southern suburbs.”
Consultation on the Southern Projects — an integrated set of passenger transport initiatives — will open in the coming weeks.