Yarra Ranges Council is calling on all election candidates in Casey to honour a recent $300 million commitment to seal streets in the Dandenong Ranges and surrounds.
The recently-announced Federal Budget funding will enable 500km of dirt roads in Yarra Ranges and Cardinia Shire, to be sealed over a 10-year period, directly benefiting up to 20,000 families and many other road users.
Yarra Ranges Mayor Tony Stevenson said the funding announcement was the result of an advocacy partnership between the two councils, who had been seeking funding to implement a transformational improvement of unmade roads throughout the Dandenong Ranges and surrounding townships and rural areas of both municipalities.
“This road funding announcement is a huge win for the people of Yarra Ranges and Cardinia Shire,” Cr Stevenson said.
“It’s essential for the safety and wellbeing of people in the Yarra Ranges, and it’s far too important to leave up in the air.
“This funding gives us a huge opportunity to improve people’s day to day lives, by reducing dust on their streets and in school playgrounds, potholes and mud in wet weather, and improve property access for emergency services.
“We need all of our parties to put this above politics and commit to the budgeted funding, no matter the result of the election in May.”
Cr Stevenson said that Yarra Ranges and Cardinia Shire had a massive unsealed road network, which in many areas has existed for more than 100 years.
“Residential development occurred at a time when our regions were considered country Victoria, however with the expansion of Melbourne, these areas are now very much part of Melbourne’s metropolitan area,” Cr Stevenson said.
“Our residents are demanding proper levels of infrastructure to access their properties, and rightly so. They want roads that are safe, without the problems of dust, potholes and poor drainage management.
“This funding announcement is very welcome news. This funding will enable us to roll out a 10-year road construction program, which might otherwise have taken 60 or more years to complete.
This Federal Government funding will significantly accelerate road sealing, delivering safer roads sooner to thousands of families.”
Cardinia Shire Deputy Mayor Councillor Collin Ross said the announcement came at a time when the community was recovering from bushfires in the Bunyip State Park, and highlighted the need for better roads to support emergency response.
“Our residents have been calling for road improvements to provide safer, all-weather access to their properties and community facilities. This funding will help us to deliver more, well-formed roads that will reduce the risks to drivers when visibility is poor and improve access during emergency events,” Cr Ross said.
“Cardinia Shire is also experiencing unprecedented levels of growth, with around seven families a day moving into our municipality, which is increasing demand and use of our unsealed road network,” he said.
Cr Stevenson said once the funding was available, Council would refine its road strategy to help prioritise roads that would be treated through the funding program.
“Council will be focusing on roads that have schools, pre-schools and community facilities as a starting point, followed by urban unsealed roads in towns and villages across the Yarra Ranges,” he said.
Cr Stevenson said roads in urbanised areas would be built using a special charge scheme, whereby construction would be co-funded by landowners and the Federal Government, with this funding package providing a substantial subsidy.
Landowners would have the option to finance contributions over a 10 year period, or pay up front to receive a discount.