“Fix and widen the road” - Keenan
Cars and trucks forced through Yarrawonga recently because of flood waters on the Hume Highway has meant a serious deterioration in the standard of our roads which could have disastrous consequences according to a much-used driver of rural roads.
Well-known local truck driver Kevin Keenan said the substantially increased traffic on December 13 and 14 broke up edges of the bitumen roads, to the point where he has serious concerns for road safety. But that’s not all.
“Roads need to be one metre wider each side,” Mr Keenan, who is the immediate past President of Australian Livestock and Transport Association, told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“It’s obvious vehicles need that width. With all the talk about road safety, it has to be done to avoid or reduce accidents. I believe that two caravans collided at Playfairs Road between the Junction and the Yarrawonga road recently.
“The Government’s given us $40 million to do from Echuca to Barnawartha but that’s not enough. The only bit done is some in Picola – that’s fantastic that some work has been done but it’s only a start.
“Widening the road by a metre each side can decrease accidents by 65 per cent, a study shows,” he said.
“We’re not only a freight industry but also a tourist industry. We need a decent State Government maintenance budget. Vehicles travelling along at the allowed 100kmph roads have very little distance between them travelling in opposite directions. The Yarrawonga to Bundalong road is a prime example.
“There’s nowhere to park off the road in most cases and no parking bays between Wodonga and Starthmerton.”
Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy said the $40 million State Government allocation is for bypass lanes in rural areas.
“I’ve had my hand out for two years seeking more road maintenance money for roads in our region,” he said.
“If you are going to divert traffic from the highway you have to keep the maintenance up on through roads. These through roads are not designed to take the extra traffic.”
While standing alongside the bitumen surface on the Murray Valley Highway between Yarrawonga and Bundalong last Saturday morning for just 20 minutes, the traffic was substantial – cars, four-wheel drives, caravans and trucks – all moving quickly and, in many instances; trucks leaving the road, kicking up dust to ensure distance between oncoming vehicles.
“Yarrawonga alone has doubled in size in not too many years and the number of vehicles using all these local and regional roads has soared,” Mr Keenan said.
“Road maintenance has to be stepped up quickly to not only repair the recent damage because of the increased use of our roads, but to widen the roads otherwise there could be serious consequences.”
Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy and well-known local identity Kevin Keenan beside a noticeable dip on the Murray Valley Highway between Yarrawonga and Bundalong highlighting its bad edging and insufficient width.
A truck gets off the road between Yarrawonga and Bundalong kicking up dust to ensure the best chance of safe passage with oncoming traffic.
Hundreds of trucks passed through Yarrawonga when the Hume Highway was closed in December.