DRIVERS on the South Gippsland Highway will have to grit their teeth for some time to come, with no end in sight to the appalling state of the road.
Repair works along the South Gippsland Highway near Stony Creek and near Potter Hill, Leongatha, are scheduled to be carried out within the next two weeks – but local motorists say this is not nearly enough and that a greater amount of resurfacing, and of better quality, should have been carried out over the summer.
“VicRoads has carried out a number of important road repairs along the South Gippsland Highway during the recent spring and summer construction season, with repairs targeted to areas around Korumburra, Loch, Bena, Toora, Hedley and Gelliondale,” said VicRoads Regional Director Scott Lawrence.
“These programmed road maintenance works have made the road stronger, smoother and more waterproof to resist further damage,” he added.
“VicRoads recognises that more repair works along the highway are still required,” Mr Lawrence said.
“Minor, shorter term repair works will continue in coming months until more permanent fixes can be carried out later in the year.
“As we are entering the wetter, cooler months, significant road repair works along the highway and other arterial roads will start to slow down.”
Fish Creek resident Doug Knez, who has written numerous letters to the papers, feels that something is amiss with VicRoads’ method of prioritising various repair works.
“I am very disappointed with Mr Lawrence’s comments and feel that VicRoads is part of the problem, as some works have been prioritised in front of more urgent needs, such as near Stony Creek, the holes at Hoddle which are occasionally filled, and the depressions in the Fish Creek-Meeniyan Road between Tarwin Road and Fish Creek.
“This response from VicRoads Regional Director Scott Lawrence is to be expected, but unfortunately he doesn’t give me any confidence that he and the government are concerned about the road problems we face.
“Some locals have said to me that it’s not Peter Ryan’s fault, it’s VicRoads, but isn’t Mr Ryan the local member? He’s also in government and is the Deputy Premier and has some influence – or is he just a puppet?” he asked.
“The western area of Peter Ryan’s electorate is sadly neglected and most electors agree with me but won’t speak up. They only want to follow the party line.
“Unfortunately, we are all suffering for this neglect by Mr Ryan. When will he and his supporters wake up?” Mr Knez asked.
“The damage to vehicles is immense and we all should send our repair accounts to VicRoads or Peter Ryan.
“It seems that no care, no responsibility is the order of the day. Thank goodness there’s an election coming,” he added.
Not only are the pot holes a danger to motorists, but their continued presence – and that of signs falsely stating ‘Road Works Are In Progress,’ – are a cause of increasing frustration, adding a whole new meaning to the term ‘road rage.’
“It’s all very well for the Coalition Government to spend $6.1 million dollars on safety barriers on the western end of the South Gippsland Highway and parts of the Bass Highway [as reported in the Mirror last week], but what about making the road itself safe to begin with in this area?” said a Koonwarra resident.
“I just hope they don’t begin installing barriers along our stretch, as there would be nowhere to go to avoid the pot holes – other than the wrong side of the road,” he added.
Bring up the subject of roads in South Gippsland, and the complaints just keep coming. There is talk of jetpatcher machines depositing bitumen on local roads in damp weather, giving the applied substance no possibility of ever setting to a firm consistency.
Loose stones have been deposited and simply left in a number of pot holes, sending showers of gravel over unsuspecting vehicles after the one in front has driven through the hole. This has supplied panel beaters and detailers with a fair amount of work, but all to the detriment of the drivers whose vehicles have been chipped by gravel or showered with wet tar.
“As a regular user of the South Gippsland Highway, I have become accustomed to the state of the roadway,” said Geoff Cooling – a motorist who travels from Meeniyan to Welshpool along the South Gippsland Highway and back five days per week.
“Locals know when to slow, how to position a car or truck to minimise road shock, how to cope,” he said.
“However, the irregular road users – the visitors, tourists, caravanners, do not have this ‘local knowledge.’
“To think that we have had to adapt to overcome the challenges of our roads is a sad indictment of the decrepit state of this highway over a long period.
“I thank the workers who are doing their best to keep it safe, but much more money needs to be spent now,” he said.
“The state of the main highway in South Gippsland is appalling; it’s one big death trap,” said a Melbourne motorcyclist who had intended spending a lovely day travelling around the district.
“You are taking your life in your hands driving in this area; I won’t be coming back,” he said, and added that he will be spreading the word to fellow motorcyclists.