HORSHAM Rural City Council and RACV have called for $842 million to address the city's road and public transport problems.
Improving the Western Highway, extending the Wimmera's passenger rail services and redirecting road and rail traffic out of Horsham's city centre are among key recommendations in a report to improve regional transport in Victoria.
The RACV's Regional Victoria Growing Pains report, released yesterday, highlighted the transport needs of 10 of the state's largest regional cities, including Horsham.
The report recognised Horsham Rural City's importance as a hub for the state and national highway system.
"Every day, 4000 private vehicles and 1500 trucks travel the highway west of Ballarat, with projections that this will double by 2025," the report showed.
"Further improvements to the Western Highway are needed, including duplication from Ballarat to Stawell and safety and capacity improvements beyond Stawell to the South Australian border."
Making these improvements topped a list of five recommendations specific to the municipality.
The RACV estimated continuing to improve the Western Highway including its complete duplication to Stawell and a minimum of three-star AusRAP safety standard to South Australia would cost about $606 million.
Next on the list was implementing a passenger shuttle rail service, extending from the Ararat railway station to Horsham and other Wimmera communities.
Horsham Rural City Council is among several Wimmera and south-west municipalities lobbying for money for a feasibility study.
Horsham Mayor David Grimble said he strongly supported RACV's recommendations.
"A commitment by the state and federal governments is urgently needed to continue the vital Western Highway duplication project, initially to Stawell," he said.
"This is a major artery, not just for Wimmera residents but also for the major freight link through to Adelaide and Perth."
Horsham council chief executive Peter Brown said improving the Western Highway and extending passenger rail services were among council's top priorities.
Another, also reflected in the RACV's report, was building a Horsham bypass for the Wimmera Highway.
Mr Brown said the bypass route was yet to be settled.
"Establishing a line on the map for the bypass so people can have some certainty for the future is important," he said.
RACV report writers concurred, urging the State Government to commit money to the project.
"A bypass is needed for Horsham to improve freight movement, road safety and town amenity and maintain the functionality of the road network," the report recommended.
VicRoads has identified route option B2 as its preferred alignment for the bypass, but is awaiting approval from the State Government to go any further.
The route cuts through Riverside, north-east of the city. The RACV report recommended a Horsham rail bypass be built concurrently with the road bypass.
"At present, the Melbourne to Adelaide rail line bisects Horsham, causing segregation and disadvantage for Horsham north," the report showed.
Mr Brown acknowledged the report's suggestion that re-aligning the rail line to the north of Horsham would reconnect the city.
He said a preliminary study two or three years ago found it would cost about $90 million to relocate the line.
The RACV's fifth recommendation for Horsham was an alternate road and foot bridge across the Wimmera River.