MP again queries narrow highway road shoulders

THE reason road shoulders adjacent to roadside barriers between Stratford and Sale and Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance are at four metres – but only three metres between Stratford and Bairnsdale – is because of “environmentally sensitive vegetation” that exists on the middle stretch of highway, according to state Roads Minister Jaala Pulford.

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull said he had asked the Minister why the shoulders were narrower on that middle stretch of road, despite much of this section – more than 25 kilometres – being open grass adjacent to farmland.

In response, Ms Pulford said every effort had been made to provide a wide shoulder on the Princes Highway between Stratford and Bairnsdale.

“However, unlike the section between Sale and Stratford, the section between Stratford and Bairnsdale that does not contain trees, contains extensive communities of environmentally sensitive vegetation,” she said.

“A detailed environmental assessment …. was completed.

“This assessment concluded that the impact to environmentally sensitive vegetation was significant if the barrier was installed at four metres.”

Mr Bull said he would continue to investigate the issue.

“I asked this question as it has been raised with me by numerous local residents, including trucking and bus companies, who struggle to get their vehicles off the road carriageway if they break down, due to it being not wide enough,” he said.

“I can understand this applying in the heavily treed areas, but I will now seek more detail on just what this ‘environmentally sensitive’ vegetation is that exists between Stratford and Bairnsdale, that is not present on the other side of Stratford or the other side of Bairnsdale, where the road shoulder is four metres.”