A LARGE landslip has forced the partial closure of the South Gippsland Highway in an area already impacted by major, long-term works.
Thousands of daily vehicle movements, including school buses, milk tankers and cars have faced delays with the highway reduced to one lane, controlled by traffic lights following Saturday night’s landslip.
Major Road Projects Victoria Program Director Raymond Paterson said geotechnical inspections, monitoring and rectification works were currently underway.
“While these works are being undertaken, traffic control will be in place as a precautionary measure. Our team are working hard to reopen all lanes to traffic, as soon as it’s safe to do so,” Mr Paterson said.
“South Gippsland Highway is currently operating under single lane shuttle flow conditions with traffic lights, with the speed limit temporarily lowered to 40kmh.”
The Leongatha State Emergency Service Unit was called out to the site between Caithness Road and Minns Road late on Saturday, helping VicRoads to secure the scene.
“The land in this section remains unstable and the situation may change rapidly. Please exercise caution when travelling through the area and avoid where possible,” the SES said, later warning the slope could continue to move for hours or even days after the initial landslide.
Leongatha Primary School issued an urgent message on Sunday warning some buses may be diverted around the area via an alternative route, while others will faced delays at the incident area.
Principal Dot Coghlan said students travelling on the Welshpool, Yanakie, Grassy Spur, Buffalo, Tarwin and Stony Creek buses needed to be at bus stops at least five minutes earlier than normal to allow for the changes.
A South Gippsland Shire Council spokesperson confirmed the Great Southern Rail Trail had not been impacted by the initial landslip, although it is clearly visible from the trail.
It’s not yet known whether the rail trail will be affected during repair works.
Major Roads Projects Victoria is realigning a stretch of the highway between Koonwarra and Meeniyan, known locally as the Black Spur.
The $115.2 million project includes building a new section of between Old Koonwarra-Meeniyan Road and Minns Road to reduce the length of highway from 3.4km to 2.3km, removal of nine sharp corners and building two new bridges over the Tarwin River.
The works also include realigning the Great Southern Rail Trail under one of the new bridges at Minns Road, building an underpass east of a new Caithness Road intersection for the rail trail, and upgrading the existing Minns Road intersection.
MRVP said the works were on track for completion in 2022.