Govt will ‘consider’ hwy funding

THE state government will “consider” the federal government’s proposal for the next stage of the duplication between Traralgon and Sale.

A government spokesperson this week confirmed to the Gippsland Times the state government would “continue to work with the federal government and consider the proposal for the next stage”.

“We’ve already upgraded 31 kilometres of the Princes Highway from Traralgon to Sale – making it better and safer for around 15,000 drivers who rely on it daily,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re also getting on with planning and preconstruction activities for the Flynn and Kilmany sections with $3 million in funding.”

The pre-construction activities are mostly complete, and include concept designs for an underpass at Kilmany to grade separate road and rail, land acquisition, utility service relocation, cultural heritage salvaging and geotechnical surveys.

The office of Roads Minister Jaala Pulford was approached for comment by the Gippsland Times, but did not directly address questions surrounding the issue of why the duplication was not funded.

It instead responded that the most recently completed sections at Traralgon east and Nambrok, which opened to traffic in December 2018, were the “final two of nine sections to be completed as part of the $260 million investment, jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments”.

The federal government has committed $132 million to fund the final two stages at Flynn and Kilmany, but the state government, which owns the road, is yet to allocate its contribution of $33 million.

Construction on the project began in 2010.

In recent Public Accounts and Estimates committee hearings, Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien quizzed the treasurer as to why the Princes Highway project wasn’t included in the state budget.

“It’s so galling to hear the government constantly complain about lack of federal funding for infrastructure in Victoria, but here we have $132 million on the table from the Commonwealth and state Labor won’t stump up its share to get the final two stages completed,” he said.

“Bizarrely, the treasurer said the funding will only be provided when it was deemed that the Princes Highway project was a ‘preferred repository of capital funds of the state’.

“What does that even mean?

“It’s a further indication of just how out of touch the treasurer and this government are.

“They should be funding the $33 million needed for the Princes Highway duplication.

“It should have been done in last year’s budget, it should have been done in last week’s budget and it should be done as quickly as possible.”

A road safety community roundtable will be held in Sale in the coming months, focusing on road safety issues affecting regional communities.

The state government is seeking community views on reducing the number of lives lost and serious injuries on regional roads.

The roundtable will explore issues such as enforcement, speed limits, technology and infrastructure and focus on local issues, as raised by local people.

The government will consider the ideas from the roundtable as part of the next road safety strategy, which is currently being developed.