Push to finish highway

UPDATED

COMPLETION of current works on the Princes Highway duplication between Traralgon and Sale will finish early, threatening local jobs unless the state government stumps up funding for the final two stages.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien has again called on the Labor government to fund the highway project after meeting with local contractors who are concerned work is about to dry up.

Mr O’Brien recently met with Mark and Jess Kiernan of Kiernan Haulage, a Sale firm which has been working on the duplication.

“Mark and Jess are very concerned at the failure of Labor to fund the remaining two stages because work will grind to a halt when the current stages finish in a few short months,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The fact the works are ahead of schedule makes the state government’s contribution even more important. Without these final two stages being funded, local contractors like Kiernan will have to look elsewhere for work, while motorists will have to put up with an unfinished road.

“(Gippsland MHR) Darren Chester has delivered his 80 per cent share of the project, but Daniel Andrews has gone missing.

“Last week we had the State Roads Minister bragging about a so-called big spend on country roads, but the reality in Gippsland is very different.

We’ve missed out on this project and our road standards in general are pretty poor.

“The rhetoric just doesn’t match the reality.

Labor says it’s spending big, but we’ve got speed restrictions due to poor surfaces and a failure to fund the Princes Highway duplication.

“Gippslanders need decent roads to attract business, jobs and new residents.

“The Princes Highway duplication will go a long way towards delivering that, but we need Daniel Andrews to continue what has been, until now, a bipartisan approach to this project.”

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the federal government “only put forward $10 million this financial year, a far cry from what is required to complete the duplication”.

“However, we are working with the Commonwealth on its federal budget commitments to Victoria, including the Princes Highway East duplication,” he said.

The Australian and Victorian governments have invested $260 million to constructing and improve nine sections of the highway between Traralgon and Sale.

Seven of the nine sections under that funding have been completed, with the final two sections currently under construction and due for completion this year.

The two remaining sections to be completed, at Flynn and Kilmany, are currently in the pre-construction phase including land acquisition thanks to a $3 million investment by the state government.

Pre-construction works are well underway, including services relocations and land acquisition.