IN a bid to move trucks off Sale roads, the state government will provide $450,000 to examine an alternative truck route.
The investigation for a more efficient truck route around Sale will be carried out by VicRoads and Wellington Shire Council.
An unofficial bypass takes in Sale-Heyfield, Myrtlebank-Fulham and Myrtlebank Rds, but VicRoads has stressed that the route is not a bypass.
There has been a rapid increase in the volume of traffic along the unofficial bypass, which has affected the stability of those roads.
If an alternative truck route is designated by VicRoads, significant upgrades will be needed, in partnership with council, to improve safety and increase the amount of weight the route can cope with, particularly B-double trucks.
Any upgrade to the route would need to take into account the intersections with Maffra-Sale Rd, a known trouble spot for accidents.
Commercial drivers travelling along the Princes Highway through Sale often face delays because of traffic lights, roundabouts and local speed zones, prompting some to take detours.
Trucks will still need to drive through Sale, supplying local business, while heavy vehicles have limited alternatives travelling to and from the south of the city.
VicRoads will work closely with local residents, businesses and the council to develop options to improve amenity and safety in Sale.
It has already spoken to landowners along the route and other community groups, such as the Sale Business and Tourism Association.
Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said the government was investigating options to remove the bottleneck of heavy vehicles through Sale.
"We want to get trucks off local roads and onto quicker, more efficient freight routes to improve safety for the community and save costly delays to freight operators," she said.
Wellington Shire Council built and natural environment general manager Chris Hastie said council welcomed news of the funding to undertake a study.
"We are fully supportive of VicRoads undertaking planning for the current 'alternate' route that is often used by transport drivers from the Princes Highway, through the Myrtlebank-Fulham Rd and back onto the Princes Highway," he said.
"This route is currently not designed for this high productivity traffic, and upgrades need to be considered.
"The Sale alternate truck route will take heavy vehicle traffic out of the Sale CBD area and will assist in easing traffic congestion, which can only be a good thing."
SBTA president Leeanne Pearce said the association had given initial support for the project during a meeting with VicRoads last week, but more community feedback was needed.
The possibility of a forum involving the SBTA, Committee for Wellington and Wellington Regional Tourism has been raised.
"More investigating and more comment needs to come from businesses," Ms Pearce said.
Ms Pearce said an alternative truck route presented the chance to improve York St, potentially creating more opportunities for dining along the road.
"If the alternative truck route goes ahead, it will give the shire and VicRoads an opportunity for the beautification of York St," she said.
"It's dangerous having that many trucks on that road."
Ms Pearce said appropriate signs would need to highlight local offerings and encourage regular motorists to drive through Sale.
She said the SBTA could speak with its counterparts in other towns to find out how they managed with similar road projects.
If the works are to go ahead, the question of who will fund them will need to be addressed.
Gippsland MHR and federal Transport Minister Darren Chester said he supported an upgrade to the Sale alternative route.
"As this is a state-managed road, the Victorian government provides funding for the necessary planning work, and would then need to identify these upgrades as a priority to the federal government," he said.
"There has been no request to the federal government to make a co-contribution towards the upgrades.
"The road was not designed for the high rates of traffic flow currently being experienced, and traffic is expected to increase.
" These upgrades are needed to improve the safety of the road."