highway-works-a-start-but-not-nearly-enoughBass MP Ken Smith, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and Liberal candidate for Bass Brian Paynter made another funding announcement for the South Gippsland Highway whilst touring the area as part of Mr Paynter’s campaign launch last Wednesday. G103114

SOUTH Gippsland Mayor Jim Fawcett says recent government funding announcements to repair South Gippsland’s crumbling roads is “a great start”, but he believes there’s a long way to go before the region’s arterials are brought back up to scratch.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine made a pit stop outside Koo Wee Rup last Wednesday afternoon to announce a $3.6 million upgrade to South Gippsland Highway between Sybella Avenue and Caldermeade Road.
This follows on from another announcement by Gippsland South MP Peter Ryan a week earlier, detailing a road repair package of $3.2 million – including a section of the South Gippsland Highway in Yarram and a stretch of Korumburra-Wonthaggi Road near Clancys Road.
Mr Fawcett said such announcements are “all welcome”, but indicated a grander plan is needed.
“It’s a great start, but our community has the right to ask VicRoads and the State Government to give us an overall plan of how they propose to bring our roads back to the same standard as the rest of the state,” he said.
“We want the State Government to acknowledge that our roads need major repairs.
“We recognise that they can’t do it all in one hit – that’s just not financially feasible – but we need a program.”
Mr Fawcett agreed that the section of highway between Koo Wee Rup and Lang Lang due to be rebuilt following last week’s announcement was in need of urgent repair, but so is everywhere else.
“All of us can point to roads in our own area that are pretty bad,” he said.
The funding announcements come just weeks after recent South Gippsland Shire Council survey results.
Over 840 people completed the online survey, with results showing a staggering 95 per cent judged the region’s roads as either ‘poor’ or ‘below average’.
The information is expected to be forwarded to Peter Ryan in the near future as the council ramps up its campaign.
Of particular note in the survey was the effect crumbling roads are having on industries relying on transport between Melbourne and South Gippsland.
Trevor Riseley, manager of Leongatha-based company Riseleys Transport, said he welcomes any upgrade announcements, but the condition of local roads in general remains “unacceptable”.
“From the overpass on Bass Highway right through to Yarram in particular is atrocious,” Mr Riseley said.
“They need to do a heck of a lot more.”
Mr Riseley said three B-double trucks in his company’s fleet “continually” require wheel balances due to the poor condition of the region’s roads.
“I’m also frustrated money seems to be spent on barriers on the side of the roads instead of the roads themselves,” he added.
The $3.64 highway upgrade between Sybella Avenue and Caldermeade Road will only cover 3.1km.
Dr Napthine said South Gippsland Highway is a key section of dual carriageway providing important linkages through to Phillip Island and Gippsland.
“While patching has been carried out in the past to keep the road operative, this funding will enable these sections of road to be strengthened, providing a longer-term solution for motorists in this area,” Dr Napthine said.
Liberal candidate for Bass, Brian Paynter, also welcomed the investment in the highway.
“The South Gippsland Highway is a vital artery for the Bass community, so strengthening this road for the future is fantastic news,” Mr Paynter said.
Road works on the South Gippsland Highway are planned to commence in November 2014 and be completed in the drier summer months.