MINISTER for Roads Terry Mulder this week announced a $45 million repair and restore package to address the poor condition of some of Victoria’s roads due to ongoing wet weather over the last two years.
“Under the previous Labor Government, underlying issues with the condition of Victorian roads were not exposed due to the lack of rain during nearly a decade of drought,” Mr Mulder said.
“However, after a number of major flood events and two years of wetter than normal weather, the roads are deteriorating at a more significant rate than predicted.
“The Victorian Coalition Government holds road safety in the highest priority and has responded to these current road conditions with a $45 million boost, which takes the Road Asset Management budget for 2012/13 to $432.9 million,” Mr Mulder said.
“While VicRoads has an ongoing maintenance program in place to ensure the safe operation of the arterial road network there has been far greater maintenance required than budget forecasts allowed.
“The funding for this repair and restore package will target some of the worst roads in Victoria, where it is needed the most.”
A spokesperson for the minister said that it will now be up to VicRoads, as the manager of the state’s roads, to draw up a program of road repairs and work out the priorities.
South Gippslanders are hoping that the heavily potholed South Gippsland Highway will be high on the list.
The director of engineering services at the shire, Anthony Seabrook, said he was confident that some of the money will be allocated to roads in South Gippsland such as the South Gippsland Highway and Meeniyan-Promontory, Foster-Promontory and Foster-Fish Creek roads.
Mr Mulder said the $45 million roads repair and restore package will provide $20 million for resurfacing works and $25 million for restoration works.
“Spending this money now will ensure savings in the future, before our roads degrade beyond repair,” Mr Mulder said.
“During the winter months, it is not possible to carry out permanent pavement works due to the wet and cold conditions, so heading into the warmer months Victorians can expect to see a lot of improvements out on the road network.
“We want to thank motorists and communities for their patience throughout winter and ask them to exercise the same patience while the works are carried out over the warmer months.”
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has applauded the funding boost.
VFF President, Peter Tuohey said the timing could not be better, with farmers preparing to hit the roads with this season’s harvest next month.
“I commend the Minister for boosting road funding to $432.9 million for the current financial year as country roads have been falling into disrepair over many years, and these works should improve road safety for all users.
“All farmers take farm and road safety very seriously and with the expected large increase in truck movements over the next few months shifting grain to silos and ports, better and safer roads will be beneficial.
“Governments must be diligent in providing ongoing funding for repair and restoration work as country roads can deteriorate rapidly if neglected.”
Mr Tuohey said the VFF looked forward to reviewing the list of roads where money was to be invested and providing suggestions as to roads that should be repaired as a result of feedback from members.
VicRoads is committed to providing safe conditions for all road users, and actively encourages road users to notify VicRoads of hazardous road conditions they may observe, such as potholes, by calling 13 11 70.