DEPUTY Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has announced a further $1 million in funding for South Gippsland Shire Council to fix local roads and bridges.
Mr Ryan made the announcement last Friday, shortly before inspecting the washed out section of the Foster-Fish Creek Road. He acknowledged the significant damage the recent heavy rains had caused to the region’s roads – VicRoads roads and shire-managed roads.
“The scale of the damage to the Foster-Fish Creek Road is quite significant, however VicRoads and contractors are currently on site working seven days a week until the road is repaired,” he said.
Working on a 35 metre stretch of road, which they have dug down seven metres to the depth of the adjacent culvert, the VicRoads contractors paused only long enough for the deputy premier to make his inspection. If the weather is kind, they expect to have the road repaired and re-opened by mid-December.
Scott Lawrence, the acting regional director of VicRoads Eastern Region, explained what they were dealing with. He said that in the recent heavy rains the drains on either side of the road filled with water, flooding the adjacent culvert and scouring away the sides of the road. In the worst case of damage he has seen in his time with VicRoads, a four metre deep hole formed in the road. Once Victoria Police and VicRoads were alerted, the road was closed and work began almost immediately to fix the hole.
Mr Lawrence said VicRoads set aside a certain amount of funding in its maintenance budget each year for cases such as this which arose unexpectedly. He estimated the cost at $350,000. He said VicRoads would be inspecting other culverts, and he urged locals to report any damage they noticed on their roads to VicRoads on 13 11 70.
“The Coalition Government will continue to work with VicRoads to ensure damaged roads across the region are repaired as quickly as possible, however I urge motorists to proceed with caution when driving on damaged roads,” said the deputy premier.
Mr Ryan said Friday’s funding announcement of $1 million for the South Gippsland Shire Council would be provided through the Coalition Government’s Country Roads and Bridges Fund.
“The four-year Country Roads and Bridges Fund, now in its third year, provides up to $1 million per year to 40 rural councils, including the South Gippsland Shire Council.
“This is a total of $160 million of additional funds to improve the condition of shire managed roads and bridges, and can be used for maintenance and the restoration of existing road or bridge infrastructure in the region.”
Mr Ryan said the funds would be used to carry out the following works:
Agnes River Road near Toora – bridge rehabilitation $211,491;
Summers Road near Fish Creek – bridge rehabilitation $102,248;
Goads Road near Dumbalk North- bridge rehabilitation $471,912; and
Mount Eccles Road near Mount Eccles- sealed road rehabilitation $214,349.
South Gippsland Shire Councillor Kieran Kennedy welcomed the $1 million funding boost, saying: “The weather conditions of the past few years have created a huge maintenance impost on both local and state government and we appreciate all funding that can assist us to maintain the 2,000 kilometre network of roads managed by the council.”
Mr Ryan said in addition to the $1 million boost for shire roads and bridges, the state government had boosted the road maintenance budget by $45 million in October 2012 and then by a further $170 million over three years in May this year.
He said the government would be spending $466 million on road maintenance in 2013-14.
“By carrying out a targeted road restoration program, in addition to comprehensive pavement resurfacing, we will ensure the life of these roads is extended for decades to come.
“$4.33 million has already been announced this year to repair and restore South Gippsland roads around Foster, Buffalo, Fish Creek and Middle Tarwin.
“A further $5.4 million will be spent on road safety improvements over a 14 km stretch of the South Gippsland Highway from Lang Lang to Loch. These works will be carried out between November 2013 and April 2014.”
Mr Ryan said VicRoads had currently programmed more than $6 million worth of immediate repair and restoration works in the South Gippsland region over the coming months, including pavement strengthening works, rehabilitation and asphalt works, as well as road resurfacing works. Pavement strengthening works including rehabilitation and asphalt works programmed to be carried out by VicRoads include:
- Foster-Promontory Road from Foster to Fish Creek – commenced November;
- Korumburra-Wonthaggi Road at Bena-Kongwak Road roundabout – scheduled to begin December;
- Waratah Road near Fish Creek – scheduled to begin December;
- Meeniyan-Promontory Road at Buffalo – scheduled to begin December;
- South Gippsland Highway near Bridge Street at Korumburra – scheduled to begin December;
- Buffalo-Tarwin Lower Road at Middle Tarwin – scheduled to begin December;
- Fish Creek-Foster Road near O’Gradys Ridge Road at Foster – scheduled to begin February; and
- Barry Road at Agnes – scheduled to begin February.
- Road resurfacing works programmed to be carried out by VicRoads include:
- Drouin-Korumburra Road, three sites between Poowong North and Ranceby – scheduled to begin December;
- South Gippsland Highway, seven sites between Nyora and Toora – scheduled to begin January;
- Korumburra-Wonthaggi Road at Korumburra – scheduled to begin January;
- Lang Lang-Poowong Road between Nyora and Poowong – scheduled to begin January;
- Nerrena Road near Nerrena – scheduled to begin January;
- Strzelecki Highway, five sites Delburn and Leongatha – scheduled to begin January;
- Barry Road at Agnes – scheduled to begin February;
- Meeniyan-Promontory Road between Buffalo and Fish Creek – scheduled to begin February; and
- Wilsons Promontory Road near Darby River – scheduled to begin February.