Highway duplication money tipped for budget

MONEY for the remaining stages of the Princes Highway duplication between Sale and Traralgon is tipped to be included in Tuesday’s federal budget.

While the federal government could announce $132 million to duplicate the highway at Kilmany and Flynn, the works hinge on a state government funding commitment.

The duplication was in doubt after it was left unfunded in the recent state budget, with no specific allocations for the sections.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester said ongoing lobbying of his federal government colleagues appeared to have paid off.

“This is great news for all Gippslanders who are keen to see the duplication project finished off,” he said.

“Securing the money needed to finish the duplication of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale is one of the highest priorities for Gippsland this year.

“This is a project that is going to save lives on our roads and obviously create jobs during construction, and improve productivity for local businesses.”

Mr Chester said existing funding of $260 million would have left two stages incomplete at Kilmany and Flynn.

Under current arrangements, the federal government would fund 80 per cent of the total cost and the state government would be required to provide 20 per cent

“This $132 million is the federal government’s share of the project, we are committed to getting the job done,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester said he had relayed to Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack the importance of the Princes Highway project.

Work on currently funded sections of the duplication project is due to be completed next year. Construction of the final unfunded sections is expected to cost $165 million.

“Construction on a 3.9 kilometre section of the highway east of Traralgon between Minniedale Rd and east of Sheepwash Creek Rd is due to be finished at the start of 2019,” Mr Chester said.

“Construction on the 3.4km section at Nambrok to the east of Rosedale-Maffra Rd is scheduled to be completed at the end of this year.”

Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing, who last week implied the state government was waiting on the federal government’s budget promise of funding before it could allocate the remaining $33 million for the project, described the announcement as “great news” for Gippsland.

“We’ve been working for four years for Victoria to get a better share of the road and rail infrastructure spend,” she said.

While there has been no firm commitment from the state government to provide the extra $33 million required for the Kilmany and Flynn duplication, Ms Shing said she would be “working hard to ensure the duplication goes ahead”.

“I’m looking forward to securing that (funding) as soon as possible,” she said.

Ms Shing said the federal funding announcement “sits really well alongside the state government’s record investment” in road and rail infrastructure.