The Mirror News

Black Spur contract finally awarded

– South Gippsland Highway works to start early 2020

FINALLY the work on the realignment of the South Gippsland Highway between Koonwarra and Meeniyan is a step closer to starting.

The contract for the realignment at Black Spur has been awarded to CPB Contractors.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the $115.2 million upgrade would see nine sharp bends removed and roadside barriers installed to significantly improve driver safety. 

“The sharp bends of the Black Spur have contributed to a history of crashes on the highway,” he said.

Monash MP Russell Broadbent said the realignment would reduce the length of highway between Old Koonwarra-Meeniyan Road and Minns Road from 3.4km to 2.3km. 

“We’ve listened to the community’s concerns and selected a route that significantly improves safety for road users,” Mr Broadbent said. 

“The project will also provide a major boost to the local economy, supporting up to 100 new jobs during construction.

“Two bridges will be built over the Tarwin River as part of the upgrade as well as a new underpass for the Great Southern Rail Trail near Caithness Road.”

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the upgrade would provide significant benefits for drivers who use the highway to travel to popular Victorian tourism destinations such as Wilsons Promontory and Venus Bay.

“This upgrade is a big win for freight and tourism operators who’ll benefit from reduced travel times and the improved reliability of the road network,” Ms Allan said.

“The realignment will also mean better access to ports in Melbourne, Hastings and Barry’s Beach.”

Eastern Victoria Region MLC Jane Garrett said these works will deliver safer and more reliable journeys for local drivers.

“The renowned bends on these parts of the highway has resulted in frequent run-off-road crashes delays and safety concerns,” she said.

“These works will mean a safer journey for the thousands of drivers who use the highway every day.”

The awarding of the contract follows the completion of comprehensive environmental assessments to ensure the protection of local vegetation and the environment, particularly the Strzelecki Gum and Australian Grayling.

Extensive cultural heritage salvage investigations have also been recently completed as part of the Cultural Heritage Management Plan that was approved in June 2018.

The cultural heritage salvage works were carried out by local Aboriginal groups and archaeologists to get a better understanding of the cultural and historical significance of the area.

Salvaged artefacts found will be analysed to provide insight into the cultural history of the area.

Major construction is set to start early next year and follows the extensive planning and environmental investigation work that has now been completed. 

The $115.2 million South Gippsland Highway realignment is jointly funded by the Federal and Victorian governments and is being delivered by Major Road Projects Victoria.

 Danny O’Brien relieved the project is going ahead

THE Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said  he was astounded that after South Gippslanders were forced to wait so long for this project to actually get underway, it has now been revealed the cost is more than double the estimate from just six months ago. 

“I’ve been campaigning for this project for nearly five years now and have been frustrated like most South Gippsland motorists that it has been constantly delayed. 

“When my Federal colleague, Darren Chester provided half the Federal funding for this project in 2016 it was a $50 million project.

“The state budget papers in May, just six months ago, confirmed the total project was $50 million and yet today we have an announcement that it is going to tender at $115.2 million. 

“While I’m relieved the project is finally going to get underway with the appointment of a contractor, it is astounding that the project has blown out so much in such a short time. “Gippslanders want this project to be finished but they will be astounded that it is now going to cost so much more than the estimates over the last five years.”

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