PILING works are underway to build foundations for two new bridges over the Tarwin River as part of the South Gippsland Highway realignment at Koonwarra.

The first of two temporary bridges is being constructed across the west branch of the Tarwin River to provide construction access while the permanent bridges are being built.

The Great Southern Rail Trail will be diverted in two locations early in 2021 to enable construction of a pedestrian underpass and retaining walls.

Tree removal works have been completed, with seeds collected from Gippsland Blue Gums and Strzelecki Gums, while suitable habitat logs have been distributed into the Black Spur Creek Wetlands.

Earthworks across the project site are now reshaping the terrain and making the new road alignment more visible.

The realignment of the South Gippsland Highway at Koonwarra, known locally as the Black Spur, will deliver crucial safety and travel time benefits for Victoria’s south-east.

The $115.2 million project will drastically improve reliability, with the highway’s length to be reduced from 3.4km to 2.3km.

Construction of the new section of the highway from Old Koonwarra-Meeniyan Road to east of Minns Road started in early 2020.

Nine sharp corners will be removed, with flexible safety barriers installed on the new road.

The project has undergone rigorous environmental assessments and extensive cultural heritage investigations to get a better understanding of the significance of the area.

The works do not impact on the Koonwarra Fossil bed.

Major Road Projects Victoria has worked extensively with Museums Victoria to identify any potential areas within the project site that may yield fossilised material and has a procedure in place, should another fossil bed be found during construction works.

Regular site inspections by a palaeontologist during earthworks have so far not located any new fossil sites.

The project is on track for completion in 2022.