Al­ter­nate road op­tions crit­i­cal

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page -

If we ever want to know why main­tain­ing our sec­ondary re­gional roads is im­por­tant we need only con­sider what hap­pens when traffic in­ci­dents and trauma close down our high­ways.

Diver­sions and de­tours are in­evitable on busy in­ter­con­nect­ing through­ways such as the Western High­way and we must be in a po­si­tion to keep traffic mov­ing.

In the Wim­mera, Mallee and Grampians fringe, where there is a con­ver­gence of sev­eral high­ways, there is al­ways plenty of dis­cus­sion and de­bate about en­sur­ing these pri­mary routes are up to scratch.

And right­fully so. The vol­ume of traffic, in­clud­ing a pro­ces­sion of trans­ports on the Western High­way be­tween Mel­bourne and Ade­laide, is seem­ingly un­end­ing.

This traffic has to go some­where if emer­gency-ser­vice ac­tiv­ity or press­ing road­work forces a ma­jor diver­sion.

In a cir­cum­stance in­volv­ing a fa­tal truck-trailer rollover on the Western High­way near Pimpinio ear­lier this month, much of the peak-time high­way traffic be­tween Dim­boola and Hor­sham found it­self on Blue Rib­bon Road on the out­skirts of Hor­sham. At one stage this ru­ral con­nect­ing road and recog­nised by­pass was the route for about 80 trucks every hour as well as other mo­torists.

We will leave it up to the ex­perts to de­ter­mine whether the road and other sim­i­lar sec­ondary-road routes are safe enough for this type of diver­sion. What we do know is that they are tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­er­ably nar­rower with more ex­posed shoul­ders and deeper drop-offs than high­ways.

And, whether it’s driver er­ror or some­thing

else, we’ve al­ready seen a cou­ple of in­ci­dents in­volv­ing di­verted traffic oc­cur­ring on these types of roads.

Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy said she be­lieved there was a press­ing need for closer examinatio­n of and more work on by­pass roads for day-to-day as well as high­way-diver­sion traffic.

She claimed the State Gov­ern­ment had re­jected a Re­gional Roads Vic­to­ria, ‘aka Vi­croads’, rec­om­men­da­tion that $50-mil­lion be spent on up­grad­ing po­ten­tial by­pass routes, with Blue Rib­bon Road high on the list of pri­or­i­ties.

We all know that road con­struc­tion and main­te­nance is a fi­nan­cial sponge on the pub­lic purse. Roads cost all levels of gov­ern­ment a for­tune.

What­ever the cir­cum­stance, our pri­mary pub­lic road net­works across the state must main­tain high levels of flex­i­bil­ity and safety.

Dual-car­riage­way work on the Western High­way, set to re­sume af­ter a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment cul­tural-her­itage as­sess­ment of an area near Ararat, is good news.

A du­pli­cated high­way opens the door to a va­ri­ety of traffic-flow al­ter­na­tives.

But where there is a busy sin­gle-car­riage­way high­way cross­ing the re­gion, traffic diver­sions in­volve sec­ondary or by­pass roads that must be main­tained at a high stan­dard.

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