$32m Gippsland roads boost

THE federal government will provide more than $32 million for Princes Highway safety and infrastructure upgrades, as part of a package of works stretching from Sale to Genoa – including $8 million to revitalise the highway where it passes through Sale.

The package also includes $6.2 million for bridge strengthening as part of the East Sale Alternative Truck Route work.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack and Gippsland MHR Darren Chester made the announcement after consultation with local community leaders.

Mr McCormack said these important projects would increase safety and boost the local economy.

“The Gippsland economy has taken a real hit this year with the crippling drought, devastating bushfires and now the coronavirus,” Mr McCormack said.

“As a government, we want to support local jobs and stimulate the economy with an infrastructure investment program stretching right across Australia.

“These projects in Gippsland will build on the work we have already funded on the Princes Highway east which are delivering both safer roads and better access for all motorists in the region.”

Mr Chester has welcomed the funding, which he says will help deliver his plan to boost tourism numbers in the future.

“We need to activate the Princes Highway as more than just a transport corridor,” Mr Chester said.

“Our government has already contributed to the construction of six new overtaking lanes between Lakes Entrance and the New South Wales border and record $260 million funding for the duplication between Traralgon and Sale, which makes it easier to reach east Gippsland.

“Now we have to give visitors a reason to stop, stay and appreciate everything our region has to offer.

“With this funding, we will be able to improve safety and deliver infrastructure in Sale, Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance, which makes our region more attractive for locals and visitors alike.”

The federal government has committed $17 million in funding to the following projects and will seek to secure contributions from Wellington and East Gippsland Shire councils and other sources to ensure the project benefits are realised on the ground.

The allocations are $8 million for Wellington Shire’s ‘Revitalising Our Region’ package of works; $5 million for Bullock Island bridge replacement and associated works; and $4 million for Princes Highway rest area redevelopment at Lakes Entrance slipway, Newmerella, Cann River and Genoa.

Wellington Shire mayor Alan Hall said council was well advanced with its plans to redevelop the highway in Sale and build new facilities to attract visitors.

“We welcome the federal government funding because it will allow council to bring forward major works which will improve the safety and amenity of the highway and give visitors more reasons to stop and explore the Port of Sale and adjoining wetlands,” Cr Hall said.

“Sale is the highway gateway to the Gippsland Lakes, 90 Mile Beach and our High Country towns, and council has committed $6 million to present our largest town in the best possible way to the travelling public.

“The federal government contribution will obviously expand the projects and deliver more benefits to our region.”