IT’S still five days before Christmas but South Gippsland has already been handed the best ‘gift’ it’s seen in a generation after news that the State Government will match the $25 million already allocated to the South Gippsland Highway by the Federal Government.
That’s $50 million worth of improvements between Yarram and Koonwarra.
The matching $25 million in funding, announced today by the Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, will be used to undertake a complete realignment of the highway, east of Koonwarra, through the notorious ‘Black Spur’ bends.
According to Ms Shing, locals and visitors alike will benefit from a safer and more reliable journey due to major upgrades along the South Gippsland Highway.
As well as removing several bad curves on the highway at Koonwarra, works will also include widening the road and making safety improvements right along the highway, through to Yarram.
“Over the past five years, there have been 13 crashes through the Black Spur with a history of cars running off the road,” said Ms Shing.
“More than 4200 vehicles, including 800 heavy vehicles, travel through Koonwarra each day and are forced to slow down to pass safely through the sharp bends in the Black Spur section.
“These works will make it safer for anyone travelling through this stretch, and cut travel times for motorists,” she said.
“The upgrades will boost tourism in the region, with more than one million visitors travelling along the highway each year to see South Gippsland’s popular tourist destinations.
“It is also a major link to Victoria’s rural road network and is the main route to major ports and markets for many industries including agriculture, dairy, oil and gas.
“We’re upgrading sections of the South Gippsland Highway, including the notorious Black Spur, to save lives and reduce the risk of serious injuries.
“The community has told us they want this road fixed, and we’ll do the work to make it safer and more reliable for local South Gippsland communities, tourists and the freight industry,” she said.
The $50 million project is joint-funded by the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments as part of the Victorian Infrastructure Package.
Local transport operators in particular have hailed the announcement as a game-changer for safety on the main route through the region.
They have been strongly supported locally by Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien who has lobbied hard for the upgrade.
“This is fantastic news for the South Gippsland community, which for too long has been living with sub-standard roads. I look forward to seeing the detail of the announcement,” he said.
“I have been working on the Black Spur realignment since I got elected nearly two years ago. It has been frustrating that the business case funded by Federal and State Coalition Government’s has taken so long, but thanks to the funding put forward by my federal colleagues Darren Chester and Russell Broadbent, we can now get this important project underway.
“I have written to Minister Donnellan suggesting that some of the money for the sections of Highway east of Foster should go towards a new overtaking lane as well as widening and alignment improvements and I will continue to advocate for this outcome.
“We must continue to upgrade local roads for the safety and convenience of locals, for our local economy and for the many thousands of tourists that come to our region each year.”
$50m Christmas gift – Green light for Black Spur