“Fix and widen the road” - Keenan

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY ROBERT MUIR

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.

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