IT MAY traverse one of the most scenic landscapes in the state, but the South Gippsland Highway is looking far from pretty at present. In countless places the road is crumbling away, with deep potholes posing serious problems for the unwary driver.
“If you try and dodge the potholes you can create an accident, and if you hit one you can do untold damage to your car – and lose control to boot!” said Reg Williams, one of many local drivers frustrated by VicRoads’ piecemeal response to the pothole problem.
Mr Williams acknowledged that the weather conditions of late have not made it easy to keep roads in top condition, but “the road isn’t being maintained like it used to be,” he said. “That’s despite heavier traffic – bigger trucks and many more of them.”
“VicRoads has its priorities all wrong,” added Mr Williams. “Why are they spending a fortune on guard rails and ignoring the potholes?”
Numerous people have raised this last point with The Mirror, so we put it to VicRoads. This was the response:
“Work has started on the $7.13 million project to improve safety on South Gippsland Highway from east of Bena to Meeniyan. The works, which are spread over almost 33 kilometres of the highway, aim to reduce the risk and severity of run-off-road crashes, which are the common crash type in this area.
“The project will include installation of wire rope safety barriers and guard fences, the removal of roadside hazards like trees and relocation of some power poles as well as improvements to guideposts and road signs.
“Wire rope barriers are a proven treatment in reducing the severity of crashes by gradually absorbing impact energy and preventing impact with rigid roadside objects or vehicle roll-overs on roadsides. These works will provide the community immediate road safety benefits and will complement any future realignment works.”
The Mirror also queried VicRoads about the narrowness of the shoulder gap between either side of the existing bitumen and the safety barriers.
“The area between the existing edge of traffic lanes and the safety barriers is restricted by the limited width of the existing road reserve and road formation within this section of the South Gippsland Highway,” said the spokesperson. “Road shoulder sealing will be undertaken later this year as part of the $7.13 million safety project, when weather conditions allow.”
In response to The Mirror’s suggestion that the condition of the South Gippsland Highway between Foster and Hedley is generally appalling, with serious potholing and uneven and subsiding sections which warrant more than mere patching, the VicRoads spokesperson said:
“Numerous potholes have occurred across the whole of the arterial road network, including the South Gippsland Highway, as a result of significant rainfall events. VicRoads’ maintenance contractors are working to repair road surface damage across the State within available resources.
“During the 2011/12 financial year, approximately 15 kilometres of the South Gippsland Highway between Lang Lang and Yarram will be resurfaced after patching and smoothing out rough areas to improve ride quality. VicRoads will continue normal routine maintenance on the South Gippsland Highway to ensure the road is kept in a safe condition.
“Many short term repair works are carried out at this time of year, which are followed up with longer term repair works that can only be effectively carried out in warmer weather conditions.
“Pavement strengthening works are scheduled to be undertaken on the Meeniyan-Promontory Road in August this year, between Fish Creek and Wilsons Promontory Road.
“Two kilometres of the Foster-Promontory road will be resealed in the coming year, when warmer weather conditions allow.