PLANS to upgrade the alternative truck route around Sale, which will accommodate vehicles weighing up to 42.5 tonnes, have been given council support.
On Tuesday night, Wellington Shire Council decided to write to VicRoads, outlining its support for Myrtlebank-Fulham Rd as a key alternative transport route and to seek federal and state government funding for the required improvements.
The improvements were identified during a investment logic mapping process, involving council, VicRoads and the state Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
The process identified $50 million worth of works, which, according to council, will not use ratepayers’ funds.
Solutions to limitations with the alternative route include upgrading signs, improving intersections, particularly at Sale-Maffra Rd, upgrading the road cross section and bridge strengthening.
Those upgrades will accommodate heavy vehicles weighing up to 42.5 tonnes.
The unofficial Sale bypass takes in Sale-Heyfield, Myrtlebank-Fulham, Maffra-Sale and Myrtlebank Rds.
During the past 10 years, traffic along this route has increased by an average of six per cent each year, triple the rate of the highway. It is anticipated this traffic growth rate along the alternative route will continue.
Councillor Bob Wenger said the mapping exercise provided an opportunity to identify problems along the route.
“It is being used, currently, by a lot of people that travel from east Gippsland and from Melbourne, going interstate, and there’s heavy vehicle operators that use it constantly. It has provided problems at the Myrtlebank Rd intersection,” he said.
“While it is a good project, council doesn’t have a capacity to contribute to such a large project. There’s a significant amount of money that would be required for the project to go ahead.
“We are happy to support VicRoads to seek state and federal funding for an upgrade, because this would mean joining a state highway to a federal highway, something that’s not in council’s parameters.”
In a letter to council, VicRoads regional director Scott Lawrence wrote the investment logic mapping process supported the alternative route around Sale to help address increasing freight costs, improve road safety and improve amenity in the Sale city centre.
“It identifies that the removal of the through heavy vehicle traffic from the Sale CBD will create a more vibrant, prosperous city centre,” Mr Lawrence wrote.
“The outcomes and recommendations of the mapping process will play a part in supporting any future funding applications by VicRoads of council for safety and improvement projects along the Sale alternative route and amenity works within the Sale CBD.”