Western Highway Action Committee (WHAC) Chairman, Cr Kevin Erwin, has signalled his excitement ahead of the imminent recommencement of the Western Highway duplication.
After multiple delays, the Federal Government has approved works to get underway on the 12.5km stretch of road between Buangor and Ararat, which will then progress to the Beaufort to Ararat section, and then on to Ararat to Stawell.
WHAC Chairman, Cr Kevin Erwin said, “It’s great to see that the Western Highway upgrades will be recommencing shortly, I know that the community is pleased to see it’s kicking off again.”
“Major Road Projects Victoria have gone through many studies and sought approvals to get this project on track, after consulting widely with the community and the recognised Traditional Owner organisations that represent the indigenous community.”
While there has been some debate around the approved route for the highway duplication, any alternative routes have been found to be inferior for various reasons.
A ‘northern route’ that was suggested was found to affect approximately 8,000 trees, in comparison with the approved alignment which will affect about 3,000 trees.
The suggested ‘northern route’ would also cut through the foothills of Mt Langhi Ghiran State Park, which would be a move that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning would have been unlikely to support.
In addition, the ‘northern route’ does not meet current design standards, current safety standards, would cost more and also provide inferior access for local traffic.
In terms of safety, historical data suggests that the Western Highway duplication will deliver a significant reduction in casualty crashes, due to design features such as a central median to separate opposing traffic lanes, wire rope barriers and adequate rest stops among others.
“Improving safety is a priority so it’s now time to get on and build this duplication, as it will save the lives of many Victorians,” said Cr Erwin.
“A number of emergency services people have spoken to me about the accidents they’ve seen.”
“We all just want to see improved safety along the Western Highway.”