Duplication works continue

Duplication work has begun on two more sections of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale.

A total 3.4 kilometres of road between Nambrok Rd and Maffra-Rosedale Rd, and 3.9 kilometres between Minniedale Rd and Sheepwash Creek Rd, will be finished by 2019, and will feature improved safety measures.

Gippsland MHR and Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Darren Chester, said the project was central to the Australian government’s efforts to improve road safety in regional Victoria.

“Road safety is a partnership between governments, police and the community, and investing in safer roads such the Princes Highway duplication shows we are committed to turning around the worst road fatality rate recorded in five years,” Mr Chester said.

$210 million in funding has come from the federal government, with an additional $50 million from the state government.

VicRoads’ south-eastern project director, Charlie Broadhurst, said six sections had been completed, with more on the way.

“While we’ve been working on it, on the sections that haven’t been duplicated, we’ve had a number of fatalities and serious injuries,” he said.

“It impresses on us the importance of the work going on here.

“We’re proud we’ve got a local firm to do the construction.”

The contract for the Nambrok Rd to Maffra-Rosedale Rd section has been won by Gippsland-based company Whelans Group Investments.

Victorian Roads and Road Safety Minister Luke Donnellan said the upgrades would provide a boost to the Gippsland economy.

“The duplicated highway is making the journey safer and more reliable for all road users from heavy vehicles to those heading to the Gippsland Lakes for holidays,” Mr Donnellan said.

“As work begins, and traffic conditions change, we’re reminding everyone to obey all work site signs to keep themselves and roadside workers safe.”

Eastern Victoria MLA Harriet Shing said work on the two new sections would continue to help cut travel times for Victorians travelling between Traralgon and Sale.

“A stronger and more reliable road will help to reduce the cost of doing business and support the growth of our local industry and tourism in Gippsland,” Ms Shing said.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said he hoped the state government would deliver on the remainder of the funding to finish the final sections of the highway.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.

“This is a 50km stretch and we’re going to end up with 37 and a half finished once these two are done.

“It needs to be done … in light of Hazelwood, we need a bit of stimulus around here.

“People come from across Gippsland to be involved in these sorts of jobs.”

As part of the highway duplication works, the old Fulham post office, on the corner of the Princes Highway and Sale-Heyfield Rd intersection, will be demolished in early February.

The move is intended to improve visibility for motorists, so drivers approaching the intersection from the Sale-Heyfield Rd can see oncoming traffic to the west more easily, something that has proved a hazard in the past.

Part of the former building site will become road reserve, with the remainder turned into pastoral grazing land up to Williams Drive and available for public tenure.

VicRoads South Eastern project delivery manager David Gellion said the reasoning behind the demolition went further than road safety, citing the proximity to the Sale-Heyfield Rd and the highway, traffic noise and constant light from street lights as proving undesirable living conditions for occupants.

The property, which does not have a heritage overlay, was bought by VicRoads mid-2016, when the previous owner opted to take an offer and move out.

Wellington Shire Council asked VicRoads to complete an historical record of the building before demolition, and this document is being made available to local historical societies.

The consultants’ report provides a full record of the building, photo documentation and a 3D model built by surveyors.

Built in 1896, the building operated as a post office until 1968, and is reported to have been a licenced hostelry in its time as well.

A venue for meetings and community gatherings well into the 1950s, the building hosted regular meetings for the Kilmany-Fulham Bush Fire Brigade for at least nine years.