THE National Trust has described as ''desecration'' proposed roadworks to insert a new road and roundabout in the middle of the Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour.
The trust condemned the new four-lane road - a northern extension of Woolpack Road - that VicRoads plans to build from the centre of the avenue to the Western Highway, skipping the eastern, or Melbourne, approach to the town.
The existing approach includes the entire Avenue of Honour.
Paul Roser, the trust's conservation manager, said the works would compromise the historic and aesthetic value of the avenue of 312 elms over 3.3 kilometres, opened in 1918 to commemorate WWI soldiers.
He said for most motorists, the experience of driving along the avenue from east to west would be lost.
The roundabout through the centre of the avenue would have lighting and be big enough for B-double trucks. Up to 11 ''historically and aesthetically significant'' elm trees would have to be removed and new ones planted to circle the roundabout.
Dr Sue Hughes, the trust's natural and environmental heritage specialist, called on Planning Minister Justin Madden to call in the project. ''It is hard to imagine that desecration of a war memorial to accommodate trucks would be considered anywhere else in the world, especially when there are alternative routes close by.''
Bruce Gidley, VicRoads head of major projects, said there had been extensive consultation with the local RSL, council, historians and the families of soldiers with plaques under avenue trees.
Acting Premier Rob Hulls said yesterday he would seek a briefing on the project. ''It is important that it is appropriately protected.''
Bacchus Marsh RSL president Stan Franklin supports the project as a necessary upgrade, in addition to the Federal Government's $500,000 project to replace all the avenue's plaques and dying trees.
With CLAY LUCAS
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