Western Highway committee to lobby for duplication shortfall

THE Western Highway Action Committee will lobby the state and federal governments for funding to complete the highway’s duplication. 

The committee’s new chairman, Northern Grampians Shire councillor Kevin Erwin, said the duplication was the group’s highest priority.

He said the committee was disappointed that the duplication would finish about 50 kilometres from Stawell because of a funding shortfall.

“There will be a fair bit of lobbying going on this year to complete that duplication through to Stawell,” he said.

“I know money is tight at the moment but hopefully we can get a commitment to finish the duplication.

“Currently the funding of $505 million will only get the duplication to Buangor.”

Cr Erwin said he remained optimistic that the committee could help secure the $250 million required to complete the project.

“We have a strategy and that will be to seek an audience with the Premier, Roads Minister and Deputy Premier,” he said.

“We are also trying to seek an audience with the Federal Government and Opposition Roads Minister for Victoria.

“The current funding split is 80 per cent from the federal government and 20 per cent from the state government so we need the federal government on side.”

Cr Erwin said 10 municipalities – including Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack and West Wimmera shire councils and Ararat and Horsham rural city councils – were represented on the committee.

“A benefit of the committee is that it shows a commitment from those councils to get the duplication done. I think the highway duplication is a great thing for the west of the state,” he said.

“There have been a lot of serious accidents along that road so it would be good to get those safety issues improved.”

VicRoads Western Highway Project director Michael McCarthy said work was being completed on three of the project’s five stages.

He said while funding covered the cost of duplication to Buangor, the project would be planned through to Stawell.

“Beyond Beaufort, planning is continuing for the two remaining sections between Beaufort and Ararat and Ararat to Stawell where an Environment Effects Statement is required,” he said.

“On the final section between Ararat and Stawell, the EES and draft planning scheme amendments have been placed on exhibition for public comment until February 14.

“A directions hearing will follow in March, with a panel hearing due in early April.”

Mr McCarthy said a community information session would be at Great Western Primary School on January 30 between 4pm and 7pm.

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