The unsafe and perilous condition of many roads across Western Victoria is putting lives at risk and there needs to be a major injection of funds to rectify them quickly, the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Transport Group (WSMRTG) says.
WSMTG, which represents six Western Victorian municipalities, has called for an immediate injection of $50 million by the State Government to make 30 of the regions worst C-class roads safe for users.
Almost 5000 km (about 15 per cent) of the key transport links within and between the municipalities of Buloke, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack municipalities and servicing neighbouring regions, are categorised by Regional Roads Victoria as C-class roads and almost all of them have been found to be unsafe due to their narrow seals.
When announcing the appeal for funds, WSMRTG chair and Northern Grampians Shire Councillor Kevin Erwin said these roads had simply not been built to carry the volume of traffic using them today, let alone the heavy loads being carried by numerous trucks.
“Our group has been researching and identifying key issues impacting the region’s transport network to understand how these impacts are limiting Western Victoria’s growth and development and this research clearly shows that the poor condition of many of our C-class roads is negatively impacting industry, agriculture, tourism and communities and is putting lives at risk,” Cr Erwin said.
“They are often used as detours when accidents occur on major roads; yet are an accident waiting to happen themselves being narrow with deteriorating shoulders due to passing vehicles being forced off the sealed section into the gravel.
“Crash rates on these roads are two to three times greater than the country Victorian average – this is simply unacceptable.”
There is a relatively low number of A and B-class roads servicing these municipalities with C-class roads playing an important role in connecting communities and providing access to new industries such as wind farms, mining, farming diversification and tourism.
“These roads are vital to our communities and their upkeep deserves to be a priority,” Cr Erwin said.
The 30 narrow-sealed roads most in need of urgent attention have been identified by the Regional Transport Group with Regional Roads Victoria telling the Group that an early start could be made on many of these projects which would help stimulate the regional economy at this difficult time.
A total of $300m would be needed to upgrade all C-class roads to an acceptable standard.