Concern over roads fund

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Patrick Tansey

The Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion is call­ing for more to be done to fix the un­ac­cept­able state of ru­ral and re­gional roads amid con­cerns the Bet­ter Roads Vic­to­ria Fund will not ad­dress the in­fra­struc­ture deficit fac­ing the state’s coun­try net­work.

The 2018-19 Vic­to­rian Bud­get al­lo­cated $941 mil­lion in an at­tempt to fix Vic­to­ria’s re­gional road net­work.

How­ever, the VFF is con­cerned the move does lit­tle more than re-brand the Bet­ter Roads Vic­to­ria Trust Ac­count, which has ex­isted since 1979 and al­ready re­ceives funds from traf­fic cam­era and speed­ing fines.

While the new leg­is­la­tion is more spe­cific about the types of roads the money will be spent on, and en­sures at least 33 per cent of the fund­ing will be used for coun­try roads, the VFF is not con­vinced it will be enough to solve the prob­lems fac­ing the re­gional and ru­ral net­work.

‘‘Re­nam­ing an ex­ist­ing trust ac­count will not ad­dress the years of ne­glect for Vic­to­rian coun­try roads,’’ VFF pres­i­dent David Jochinke said.

‘‘While the new ar­range­ments might amount to slightly more money for coun­try roads, there is still a huge road in­fra­struc­ture deficit in ru­ral and re­gional Vic­to­ria.’’

Moira Shire Coun­cil is not as ap­pre­hen­sive about the new fund, say­ing key ar­eas of coun­cil pri­or­ity such as works on the Murray Val­ley Hwy are be­ing made a re­al­ity un­der it.

The Murray Val­ley Hwy has one of the high­est num­bers of crashes per kilo­me­tre of all ru­ral high­ways in Vic­to­ria. The past decade has seen a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in traf­fic vol­umes and an in­crease in crashes on the road.

In the five-years to De­cem­ber 2016, the Echuca to Yar­ra­wonga sec­tion of the highway ex­pe­ri­enced 100 crashes, with seven fa­tal­i­ties, 32 se­ri­ous in­juries and 61 other in­juries.

‘‘We have reg­is­tered our con­cerns re­gard­ing the con­di­tion of the Murray Val­ley Hwy over a num­ber of years,’’ a Moira Shire Coun­cil spokes­woman said.

The shire wel­comed a $20 mil­lion state and Fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment to up­grade the highway from Echuca to Yar­ra­wonga.

Sev­eral projects are cur­rently be­ing car­ried out by VicRoads as part of the Murray Val­ley Hwy safety up­grade.

Shoul­der seal­ing in Nathalia will widen shoul­ders be­tween Katunga-Pi­cola Rd and Mor­ris Rd/Muntz Rd. This is ex­pected to be com­pleted by Oc­to­ber.

Shoul­der seal­ing in Co­bram will widen shoul­ders be­tween Ritchie Rd and Goul­burn Val­ley Hwy in Oc­to­ber. This is ex­pected to be com­pleted by De­cem­ber.

VicRoads has also iden­ti­fied sev­eral ar­eas in Moira Shire where works may be un­der­taken in the fu­ture.

They in­clude in­ter­sec­tion im­prove­ments at Katun­gaPi­cola Rd, Pi­cola; Lon­er­gan Rd, Co­bram East; and Be­nalla-Yar­ra­wonga Rd, Yar­ra­wonga, and fur­ther shoul­der seal­ing works at Ritchie Rd, Co­bram South and Punt Rd, Co­bram.

Death trap: The Murray Val­ley Hwy has one of the high­est num­bers of crashes per kilo­me­tre of all ru­ral high­ways in Vic­to­ria. Pic­ture: Ron Cross­man

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