Ovens & Murray Advertiser
“Accident waiting to happen”
Petition calling on urgent roadworks on Buckland Gap Road gathering steam
MORE than 500 local residents have expressed their concern at the condition of the Buckland Gap Road, and have rallied behind a petition demanding change.
The petition, created by Beechworth-based teacher Lia Mitchell, has amassed 518 signatures to date, calling for the shoulder of the road to be sealed to shore up the safety of those using the extremely busy thoroughfare.
Located on the edges of three local government areas - the Rural City of Wangaratta, Indigo Shire and Alpine Shire - maintenance responsibilities for the arterial road falls to VicRoads, under Regional Roads Victoria.
In her petition, Ms Mitchell said the state of the road presents real dangers for users.
“Currently Buckland Gap Road is sealed from Beechworth, however the shoulder abruptly stops and becomes gravel at Lee Morrison Road all along the stretch until the Great Alpine Road,” the petition states.
“There is no paved shoulder to speak of, which means it is very dangerous when wide trucks are driving past in the opposite direction.
“Drivers must edge off onto the rocky shoulder to allow the truck to pass safely.
“In addition, vehicles have very little room on the road to pass safely along straights when following a slow vehicle.
“Wet weather has created deep ruts at the edge of the paving, therefore the gravel shoulder is not even flat.
“This adds to the dangers for road users.”
According to Ms Mitchell, the road’s “shoddy” condition is well-known among the community, with several incidents over the past 15 odd years and almost daily close calls, but no one is doing anything to fix it.
“One of the things I’m pushing is the fact that the community shouldn’t have to wait for another tragic accident before the road gets the attention that it needs,” she said.
“VicRoads is reactive and not always proactive, and I think it’s just a matter of time before another accident happens, a major accident.
“As the road is so heavily used by cyclists, heavy vehicles, commuters, school buses, I think it’s a really big concern.
“The impacts are incredibly far-reaching, it’s quite literally an accident waiting to happen.”
Department of Transport’s regional manager (Hume), Steve Bowmaker, said the Department takes community feedback seriously.
“We value and encourage feedback by all road users, as this assists us to determine what road safety improvements are required along our arterial routes,” he said.
“Over the past 12 months we’ve completed a number of routine maintenance works along Buckland Gap Road including edge repairs, spot filling and shoulder grading.”
Ms Mitchell is working with state and federal MPs to bring the community petition to Minister for Roads, Road Safety and transport, the Hon. Ben Carroll MP.
Member for Northern Victoria Tim McCurdy said the condition of rural roads like the Buckland Gap Road is evidence regional areas have been playing second fiddle to metropolitan roads.
“This road is heavily used by commuters and school traffic, and it is a disgrace that the local community has had to resort to a petition just to get the Andrews’ Labor government to fix this dangerous road,” he said.
“The Government continues to waste billions of dollars in cost overruns in Melbourne, whilst regional Victoria cries out for more support to fix our roads.”
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said this week‘s state budget said it all about the lack of regional road funding.
“Motorists, residents and councils are screaming for road funding across the North East,” Mr Tilley said.
“I can only hope the Victorian Labor Government recognises these challenges, listens to the community and does the right thing.
“Sadly, this week‘s Victorian budget slashed more money from the state‘s roads.
“In the past two years a whopping 27 per cent of the funding available to repair and replace road surfaces and shoulders has disappeared to pay for cost blowouts on projects in metropolitan Melbourne.”
To view the petition visit www.change.org/BucklandGapRoad.