TWO new duplicated sections of the Princes Highway have opened in time to accommodate the heavy Christmas and summer holiday traffic.
The new 3.4 kilometre stretch between Nambrok and Maffra-Rosedale Rds at Nambrok, and the 3.9km stretch just east of Traralgon between Minniedale and Sheepwash Creek Rd, was opened to traffic this week.
One of the key features of the newly-upgraded sections is the two new bridges over Sheepwash Creek, spanning more than 30 metres each.
The opening marks the completion of works between Sale and Traralgon fully-funded by the state and federal governments, with money still needed for the final two stages at Kilmany and Flynn.
In May, the federal government announced $132 million to finish the project, but $33 million is still needed from its state counterpart.
The final two stages are at Flynn, from the east of Sheepwash Creek Rd to the west of Flynn Creek Rd, and Kilmany, between Maffra-Rosedale and Sale-Cowwarr Rds.
With pre-construction works underway on these two stages, Gippsland MHR Darren Chester said construction couldn’t begin until the state government committed its share of the funding.
“We all want this important project to be completed as soon as possible, so we can start to enjoy the benefits of this major investment,” he said.
“Everyone who travels along the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale has shown an enormous amount of patience during this long period of construction.
“I think we are all looking forward to the time when the full 42km of highway between Traralgon and Sale is duplicated to provide a better, safer highway.”
Mr Chester said the opening of the latest stages of the highway duplication meant 30km between Sale and Traralgon had two lanes of traffic in both directions.
“A better, safer Princes Highway will save lives and save time for locals and visitors to our region,” he said.
“The finished project will also greatly improve freight efficiencies for major industries across the region.
“Importantly, the highway duplication project will help to make the Gippsland region more accessible to visitors from Melbourne and beyond.”
The federal government had provided $210 million for the first nine sections of duplication, with $50 from the state government.
Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said between 10,000 and 15,000 vehicles relied on this part of the highway each day.
“We know that around one in five of those are trucks using the road to access farms, the paper mill and the local RAAF base in Sale,” Ms Shing said.
“The community has been pushing for a better and safer duplicated Princes Highway — and we’re thrilled to finish these important upgrades.”