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Federal roads budget for Victoria jumps 77 per cent.



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BUDGET 2001-2002 Media Release

John Anderson Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of the National Party

FEDERAL ROADS BUDGET FOR VICTORIA JUMPS 77 PER CENT

2001 Budget 8 22nd May 2001

A new northern gateway to Melbourne, a start on the long-awaited Scoresby Freeway from Ringwood to the Burwood Highway and a go-ahead for the Carlsruhe section of the Calder Highway are the highlights of a Federal Government’s roads budget for Victoria that increases 77 per cent in 2001-02.

At $384.3 million, Victoria’s share of the $1819.6 million Commonwealth roads budget rises to 21 per cent.

The program includes renewed federal spending on the Calder and Goulburn Valley Highways, while the Geelong Road upgrading receives a $50 million allocation in 2001-02.

However, the new ‘big ticket’ additions to the program are:

a 17 km realignment of the Hume Highway from Craigieburn to the Western Ring Road at Thomastown at a cost of $306 million.  This project receives $35 million in the Budget, paving the way for construction to begin.

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confirmation of the Federal Government’s $220 million contribution towards the $1 billion Scoresby Freeway from Ringwood to Frankston to begin the eastern ‘missing link’ in Melbourne’s Metropolitan Ring Road.  A $25.3 million down payment will be made in 2001-02, with $68.4 million earmarked for 2002-03.

●

Victoria’s local roads are the other big beneficiaries.  A sum of $149.6 million goes to local roads, with Victorian councils having absolute discretion over where this

money is spent.  The additional funding addresses concerns that the road system serving numerous smaller towns is deteriorating relative to the major highways that the Federal Government maintains.

Nationally, roads funding has risen 26 per cent to $1819.6 million, of which Victoria’s proportional increase is the highest of any State.

Victoria’s spending is up across all categories.  It receives 15.5 per cent of the Federal Government’s expenditure on National Highways despite having only 5.5 per cent of the National Highway by length. 

Commonwealth National Highway spending in Victoria next financial year is $121.6 million.  Victoria’s National Highways include the Hume and Western Highways, the Western Ring Road joining them, the Goulburn Valley and Sturt Highways.

Roads of National Importance - including Geelong Road and the Calder Highway - have a $102 million budget, including a $25 million allocation to match the Victorian Government contribution to the Carlsruhe section of the Calder Highway.

More than $11 million will be spent overcoming accident ‘black spots’ throughout the State.  This is in addition to a $6 million program of safety works on the Western Ring Road and a safety program for the National Highway network.

The Federal Government has also offered Victoria $1.93 million to enable 24 bridges on local roads to be upgraded to accept heavier transport vehicles.  While $780,000 was set aside for this purpose in 2000-01, a further $1.17 million has been allocated in 2001-02.

The Commonwealth has pledged $44 million from the Centenary of Federation Fund towards the cost of three new bridges over the Murray River at Corowa-Wahgunyah, Echuca and Robinvale, which otherwise are a State responsibility.  It will also build a second crossing of the Murray River as part of a Hume Highway external bypass of Albury-Wodonga and partly fund another river crossing on an internal corridor together with the Victorian and New South Wales governments.  The Victorian Government is being asked to contribute $30 million to the $145m internal boulevard, leaving $45 million outstanding from New South Wales.

Mr Anderson estimated that the Commonwealth roads program for Victoria would create or sustain 5200 jobs in the road construction, quarrying, carting and associated industries.

However, he said the lasting legacy from tonight’s roads package to the State was the way in which its integrated nature would bulwark the State economy and strengthen the economic and social interdependence between city and country.

“The Scoresby Freeway and Craigieburn bypass are road projects that come along once in a decade.  Both will have a profound impact on the future development of

Melbourne and the way in which manufacturing industry uses transport to increase national prosperity,” Mr Anderson said.

Under current planning, the Hume Highway would continue to provide access to industrial developments adjacent to the highway, as well as act as a commuter link to the city.  The Craigieburn bypass will cater to long-distance traffic that currently experiences congestion along the Hume Highway.

 “The Federal Government is equally determined to improve road links between Melbourne and Victorian regional centres.  Commonwealth funds have developed freeway conditions already from Melbourne to Geelong, Traralgon, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Ballarat.

“Tonight we push ahead with renewed vigour to construct continuous four lanes progressively from Melbourne to Bendigo and to Shepparton,” Mr Anderson said.

In addition to the Geelong Road and Calder Highway upgrades, Mr Anderson said rural Victoria benefits from construction of the $94 million Murchison East deviation on the Goulburn Valley Highway ($25 million in 2001-02) and an extensive program of works on the Western Highway, including more than $11 million towards a program of widening and rehabilitation between Kiata and Nhill, worth $19.2 million overall.

A 4.2 km deviation of the Western Highway at Armstrong, west of Ararat, will proceed.  Whereas the existing highway passes beneath the interstate rail line, the Federal Government will fund construction of a highway overpass in 2001-02.  The project includes a bridge and three other structures over watercourses.

The Federal Government will provide $100,000 to investigate options for re-routing heavy vehicle traffic around Mildura.  The heavy vehicle bypass study will proceed during the next six months.

 

Media inquiries:  Paul Chamberlin 02 6277 7680  

Background information  

New road funding

Hume Highway

Craigieburn realignment - This project involves realigning 17 km of the Hume Highway from Craigieburn to the Western Ring Road at a cost of $306 million.  This project receives $35 million in tonight’s Federal Budget, paving the way for

construction to begin.

The efficiency of the current National Highway alignment at Craigieburn is hampered by commercial activity that has led to safety concerns and traffic delays. The large-scale commercial development has restricted options for improving the road conditions on the current Hume Highway alignment.  Traffic counts are estimated at 60,000 daily at the southern end and 20,000 in the north. About one quarter of vehicles comprise heavy transport.

The Federal Government has sought an assurance from the State Government that the most environmentally responsible route for the new northern gateway to Melbourne has been chosen.

Donnybrook interchange - To be located about 30 km north of the Melbourne central business district, the proposed $22 million Donnybrook interchange has been identified as the highest priority site for an elevated intersection and grade separation of traffic to cater to the 30,000 vehicles that use the Hume Highway daily at this point. The new interchange would reduce the risk of accidents and improve traffic flow.  The project will be constructed in conjunction with the Craigieburn realignment, with a start on work scheduled in 2004.

Scoresby Freeway

The Federal Government tonight agreed to begin the eastern ‘missing link’ in Melbourne’s Metropolitan Ring Road, by agreeing to pay the $25.3 million first instalment of what will be a $220 million capped contribution to construction of the Scoresby Freeway.

 The 40 km Scoresby Freeway between Ringwood and Frankston will deliver major national economic benefits and will be a catalyst for urban renewal in much the same way as the Federal Government’s $635 million investment in Melbourne’s Metropolitan Ring Road fuelled development of Melbourne’s north-west. A linked and integrated transport system that provides reliable connections to Melbourne’s ports, airports and rail terminals is essential for industry in the Scoresby corridor and for the region’s growing population.

The Scoresby corridor is home to more than 40 per cent of Melbourne’s manufacturing and production activity and represents a major source of exports for Victoria and Australia.  At one million people, the corridor population is greater than Adelaide’s, and growing.  The corridor also contains more than 350,000 jobs - representing 28 per cent of Melbourne’s total workforce.

Consequently, development of transport infrastructure through the region is considered important to national economic performance.  For this reason, the Federal Government has agreed to contribute $220 million on a shared funding arrangement with the Victorian Government towards its cost.  The Federal Government’s projected contribution in 2001-02 is $25.3 million, with a further $68.4 million earmarked in 2002-03 as construction activity picks up. It is

anticipated construction can start in 2003 to follow on from the current extension of the Eastern Freeway to Ringwood.  The $130 million first stage will run from Ringwood to the Burwood Highway.

Overall, the freeway is estimated to cost $1 billion.  The balance of funds will be financed by the private sector under the Victorian Government’s Public-Private Partnership arrangements.  The State will pay a ‘shadow toll’ to reimburse the private sector operator.

The Scoresby Transport Corridor incorporates a freeway from the Eastern Freeway at Ringwood to the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Carrum Downs.  The freeway will link key radial routes in Melbourne’s south-east, substantially reducing travel times and cutting business costs.  A 15 minute travel time saving between Frankston and Melbourne Airport and a 20 minute saving on a cross-town journey along the corridor between Ringwood and Frankston can be anticipated.  By 2011, it is expected that travel costs in Melbourne would be reduced by $220 million as a direct result of the Scoresby Freeway being built.

The Victorian Government proposes additional public transport initiatives associated with the Scoresby Freeway, including:

more frequent bus services along Springvale Road and Blackburn Road; ● flyer express train services on the Ringwood, Frankston and Dandenong lines; ●

additional ‘park and ride’ and bus interchange facilities; and ● an extension of the East Burwood tram line to Knox City and the Mont Albert tram route to Box Hill. ●

 The package of road and public transport works will deliver major benefits to the national economy.  They are expected to include:

an increase in the total value of goods and services in Australia of $400 million in 2025; and ●

business benefits of $110 a year. ●

Just as the Melbourne Western Ring Road stimulated the relocation and establishment of new industries, the Scoresby Freeway would indirectly benefit industry in eastern Victoria and encourage development of a dominant regional centre in the corridor, such as Dandenong.  At present the city, sprawled around the intersection of the Princes Highway, Cheltenham Road, Stud Road and Clow Street, is being choked by traffic.  The roads that were the source of its prosperity are now stopping it from reaching its full potential.

Pakenham bypass

Dandenong is Victoria’s largest commercial activity centre after the Melbourne CBD. The Dandenong-Pakenham-Hastings triangle is one of Australia’s fastest growing urban areas and is expected to accommodate an additional 100,000 people

to the year 2005. It contains one of the country’s foremost concentrations of advanced manufacturing activity.

Delays and capacity constraints are being experienced on the section of Princes Highway East between the South Gippsland Freeway at Dandenong and the Berwick bypass on the south�eastern outskirts of Melbourne. This is due to the rapid development of the South�East growth corridor, particularly around Hallam and Narre Warren. The physical division of the Pakenham township by the existing highway is of local concern. Severe congestion will be experienced within five years unless road capacity is improved.

In October 1998, the Prime Minister, John Howard, offered $30 million to Victoria under the Roads of National Importance Program to put towards the cost of a 19 km Pakenham bypass. It is planned to commence the Pakenham bypass following completion of the Hallam bypass. The Victorian Transport Minister, Peter Batchelor said last month that construction of the Pakenham bypass could start as late as 2005 following a blow-out in costs to more than $200 million.

Murray River bridges

The Federal Government has committed $44 million from its Centenary of Federation Fund to finance construction of three new bridges across the Murray River border between New South Wales and Victoria provided the State governments contribute the balance.  The new bridges will be built at Corowa-Wahgunyah ($12 million), Echuca-Moama ($15 million) and Robinvale ($17 million).  They complement existing Murray River bridges on the National Highway at Mildura, Blanchetown, Tocumwal and Albury-Wodonga, as well as a new Murray River crossing associated with an external bypass of Albury-Wodonga.  In addition, the Commonwealth will fund a new internal boulevard route jointly with the New South Wales and Victorian governments.

Recently, the Victorian and New South Wales governments announced that the total cost of the three bridges has risen to $95 million.  This would bring the total cost of the Corowa bridge to $18 million, Robinvale to at least $40 million and Echuca to $37 million.  The States have sought a further $25.5 million towards the cost of the approach roads.  This arrangement is outside the parameters of the original Commonwealth financial offer. 

Ongoing construction and upgrading

Western Ring Road

The Federal Government has spent $635 million constructing the Western Ring Road and has pledged another $12 million for road safety improvements on the National Highway section of the route between the Hume and Western freeways.  This project commenced this year and $6 million will be spent in 2001-02, with $5 million allocated in 2002-03.

The Western Ring Road between the Western and Princes highways is a State funding responsibility.

The Federally-funded safety works for the route include:

wire rope safety barriers between the Tullamarine and Hume freeways, the Calder Highway and Airport Drive, and Sunshine Avenue to the Calder Freeway;

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increased traffic capacity at the eastbound off ramp to the Hume Highway; ● widening to six lanes at the Moonee Ponds Creek bridge (including changed linemarking at Jacana tunnel); ●

traffic capacity improvements on the Hume Highway between Camp Road and the Western Ring Road. ●

Other works in the package include additional help phones for stranded motorists, variable speed signs to assist traffic management, additional signs and linemarking and an electronic congestion warning system at the eastbound off ramp to the Hume Highway.

Geelong Road

The Geelong Road upgrading receives a $50 million allocation from the Federal Government in 2001-02.  The road has been declared a Road of National Importance, with the Federal Government contributing $120 million cost of upgrading the highway to six and eight lanes.

South-West Melbourne and Geelong are experiencing significant growth in population and economic activity. The Princes Freeway linking Victoria’s two largest cities carries six million tonnes of freight annually. It connects Melbourne with port facilities, Avalon airport, and agricultural and manufacturing regions to the South Australian border. Avalon Airport has been developed as an inter-modal freight hub and international export centre for south-eastern Australian goods. It offers world class facilities for handling of agricultural and horticultural produce. Geelong Road traffic volumes range from 90,000 vehicles per day at the West Gate Freeway junction to 40,000 vehicles daily at Geelong.

The Federal Government has agreed to fund the upgrading of Geelong Road, its contribution capped at $120 million, and in the process create 4500 construction jobs. The Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, officiated at a ceremony commemorating the start of work in late April 2000 and announced that the Federal Governement would bring forward its funding contribution to speed construction. Overall, the Federal and State governments plan to spend $280 million on the 60 km link. By mid-2002, Geelong Road will be widened to four lanes each way between Werribee and Melbourne’s Western Ring Road, while three lanes will operate in each direction between Werribee and Geelong.

Major industry groups operating in the area, including Shell and Ford Australia,

stand to benefit significantly from the Commonwealth’s commitment and emerging industries, such as the export of perishable produce from Avalon Airport, will be assisted.

The combined investment will generate more than three dollars in benefits for every dollar spent widening Geelong Road. Travel time, fuel and efficiency savings will be of the order of $50 million annually. Australia’s gross domestic product would be advantaged $500 million a year by 2025.

Construction is proceeding in four stages:

1. Corio Section-Corio to Lara; 2. Little River Section- Lara to Werribee; 3. Maltby Section-Maltby bypass; 4. Laverton Section-Werribee to Western Ring Road.

A fifth contract has been awarded to build a new 23 km recreational path, to be known as the Federation Trail, from the existing Western Ring Road path at Laverton North to the Werribee River. Providing a dedicated and safe route for cyclists and pedestrians, the path will be completed in mid�2002. Cyclists will be able to ride on widened road shoulders between Werribee River and the Corio interchange.

Construction of the 6 km Corio Section started in March 2000. It is scheduled for completion in 2002. Works will extend from the Lara interchange to Broderick Road and incorporate a new intersection where the Geelong Outer Ring Road connects with Broderick Road. A third lane will be added on the Geelong�bound carriageway between the Lara interchange and the Corio overpass. Freeway standard lighting and signage will be incorporated into a redeveloped Corio interchange. Improvements will be made to Forest Road in the vicinity of the overpass.  The Geelong�bound bridge at Hovells Creek will be widened to include a third lane. Existing traffic lanes and emergency stopping lanes will be rebuilt.

The upgrading will remove deficient bridges on Geelong Road at Little River and Hovells Creek, thus opening up the route to vehicles with higher mass limits.

Emergency telephones will be located in off�road bays for greater safety and security. The landscaping plan includes basalt stone walls on some sections leading to the City of Geelong gateway, while crash medians will protect mature trees on the freeway median and verge. New noise barriers will protect adjacent residential areas of Lara and Corio.

Meanwhile, the Walter Construction Group has been awarded a $33 million contract to upgrade the Maltby section, including a bypass of Werribee. The Maltby section - opened in 1961 as Victoria’s first ever freeway - is being reconstructed to provide three lanes in each direction between traffic interchanges either end of Werribee.

Lighting will be improved at the Duncans Road interchange. Freeway bridges will be widened over the Werribee River, the Melbourne Water outfall sewer and a

major drainage channel between Sneydes Road and Duncans Road.

Other features include median strip wire safety barriers along the 8.6 km route to prevent crossover crashes. Feature markings on fences and road shoulders will identify local landmarks, such as Victoria’s Open Range Zoo. More than 40,000 new trees, shrubs and native grasses will be planted along the reconstructed Maltby bypass. Many advanced trees will be planted, replacing older and diseased trees.

In 1999, the western interchange at the Geelong end of the Maltby bypass was upgraded. The eastern interchange, which provides a fast exit to Werribee for traffic from Melbourne, is being developed as part of the Laverton section contract.

Contracts for the Little River and Laverton sections of the Geelong Freeway were awarded in the second half of 2000 so that all planned works along the entire length of Geelong Road are now under way.

Calder Highway

Carlsruhe upgrading - Construction of the long-awaited Carlsruhe section of the Calder Highway is set to begin in October following confirmation in tonight’s Federal Budget of $25 million to meet half the total cost.  The Victorian Government will contribute $25 million to the Carlsruhe section also, allowing for the Calder Highway to be built to continuous four-lane freeway standards to north of Kyneton by early 2003.

The additional federal funding brings to more than $100 million the total Commonwealth contribution to upgrading works on the Calder since it was declared a Road of National Importance in November 1996.

The Carlsruhe Deviation involves 8 km of new freeway connecting the current Woodend bypass project and the existing Kyneton bypass.  The project will include nine bridges, of which seven (all freeway bridges and the Carlsruhe Central road overpass) will have deck heating to combat ‘black ice’ conditions during winter.  Other features include construction of an interchange south of Carlsruhe, approximately eight kilometres of local access roads, replacement of a weighbridge, and extensive landscaping.

Other works - The 500 km Calder Highway carries high volumes of freight transport, business and personal travel between Melbourne and the major provincial centres of Bendigo, and Mildura. The highway provides access from New South Wales and central and northern Victoria to domestic and export markets, and, in particular, the key inter-modal terminals at Tullamarine airport, the Port of Melbourne and the Port of Geelong.

Daily traffic volumes on the Calder Highway range from 11,000 vehicles per day just south of Kyneton to 15,000 just north of Gisborne bypass. Elsewhere, the number of vehicles using the highway rises sharply. For instance, 24,000 vehicles, including about 2400 trucks, use the Calder Highway past the Bulla-Diggers Rest

Road intersection. Some 5000 vehicles join or cross the freeway at this point every day. Traffic is expected to grow between three and five per cent per annum. Commercial vehicles account for about 10 per cent of all vehicle movements.

The volume of freight carried on the Calder Highway is expected to grow. Export products - including wool, sheep, fruit, dairy products, grain, manufactured engineering products and textiles and other commodities such as pig, poultry, wine and low and high value added timber products - require efficient reliable access to markets.

An upgraded Calder Highway will allow the people of Mildura and surrounding areas to more effectively promote their location as a prime tourist market and manufacturing hub based on value adding to the fruit and vegetable sectors.

Greater Bendigo is a major inland urban centre of more than 100,000 people and the second largest regional manufacturing area in Victoria.

The surrounding Goldfields Region, Mildura, the Macedon Ranges and Hanging Rock and other centres along the Calder Highway are major tourist destinations. Tourist traffic affects travel patterns and the mix of vehicles using the route. More than 130,000 tourists use it annually. Tourist traffic, a significant contributor to weekend traffic, is 25-30 per cent higher than on weekdays. The Calder Highway also serves an important commuter function. The Macedon Ranges Shire is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Victoria, with one of the attractions being ready access to Gisborne, Woodend and Kyneton to Melbourne.

The Calder Highway has a poor accident record. Upgrading the highway to freeway standards is expected to contribute substantially to accident reduction.

In November 1996, the Federal and State governments agreed that the Calder Highway should be designated a Road of National Importance. It was agreed that approved Roads of National Importance projects would be funded on a dollar�for �dollar basis and that the Victorian Government would continue to maintain its previous levels of funding for the Highway.

The Federal Government agreed to share funding for the $6 million Bulla-Diggers Rest Road interchange, reconstruction of the $51 million Black Forest section and the $90 million Woodend bypass, and planning for future roadworks between Kyneton and Ravenswood.

The total value of Roads of National Importance funding to the Calder Highway is $100 million. This figure excludes money the Commonwealth provided previously under the National Arterials category.

In funding these works, the Federal Government is working towards a strategy that eventually envisages:

a four-lane divided freeway between Melbourne and Kyneton; and ● a four-lane divided highway between Kyneton and Bendigo in a reservation ●

suitable for conversion to freeway standard in the longer term.

Three sections between Gisbourne and Kyneton form a key component of the strategy. Construction is proceeding south to north, with the Black Forest section commenced first, followed by the Woodend bypass and then the Carlsruhe section. The Commonwealth is funding all three projects.

Bulla�Diggers Rest Road interchange - The Bulla-Diggers Rest Road intersection had been the scene of eleven casualty accidents since the Diggers Rest bypass was opened in July 1993. This included one fatality, which prompted the installation of an 80 kph speed zone and radar�activated speed advisory signs and the construction of the new interchange.

Work on the $6 million full diamond interchange at the intersection of the Bulla �Diggers Rest Road and the Calder Freeway at Diggers Rest began with turning of the first sod for the project on 17 March 1997. The overpass provides for pedestrians and cyclists on one side. More than 10,000 trees and shrubs were planted.

The interchange was opened to traffic in mid-1998.

Construction of the interchange has eliminated delays for crossing and entering traffic, and allowed the former 80 kph speed zone to be lifted to 110 kph. A continuous  110 kph speed limit applies from Diggers Rest to the end of the Gisborne bypass, a distance of 20 km.

Black Forest section -In 1997, construction commenced on the $51 million, 6.8 km Black Forest section, from the end of the Gisborne bypass to the west of the existing highway, rejoining at Alex Evans bridge just north of Nursery Road. The highway through this area had a poor accident record. This was due to a combination of factors such as undivided road, intersections, direct access, weather conditions including 'black ice' and trees being too close to the road.  The new freeway opened to traffic on 17 March 2000.

Woodend Bypass - Started in 1997-98, the 14 km Woodend Bypass will provide significant economic and traffic management benefits. It will connect the duplicated Black Forest section of the Calder Highway and the existing road near CSL straight, bypassing Woodend to the east.  The new road includes a railway overpass, a river crossing, two local road overpasses and three interchanges giving access to the Woodend township, Macedon and Lancefield areas.  The time taken for a trip to Melbourne is expected to be cut by 10 minutes when the bypass opens later this year.

The road design pays particular attention to minimising the effects of black ice - clear sheets of ice on the road surface that cannot be detected by motorists. An ice detection system will be installed on the southern section and all bridges will have heated bridge decks.

Traffic volumes through historic Woodend will be reduced substantially. The noise

nuisance is expected to decrease with the diversion of many trucks and commercial vehicles onto the bypass. The $90 million bypass will also provide significantly improved travel conditions for through traffic on this strategic road link, with significantly reduced travel times and increased road safety.

Woodend will be able to develop its identity as a tourist destination in its own right by retaining and building on its village atmosphere and developing its historic assets.

Carlsruhe section - The Carlsruhe Deviation involves 8 km of new freeway connecting the current Woodend bypass project and the existing Kyneton bypass.  The project will include nine bridges, of which seven (all freeway bridges and the Carlsruhe Central road overpass) will have deck heating to combat ‘black ice’ conditions during winter.  Other features include construction of an interchange south of Carlsruhe, approximately eight kilometres of local access roads, replacement of a weighbridge, and extensive landscaping.

Hume Highway

In addition to funding an external bypass of Albury Wodonga and also an internal boulevard in conjunction with State governments, the Federal Government plans several road safety improvements during 2001-02.  They include a new climbing lane on the Melbourne-bound traffic lanes of the Hume Highway at the Seymour Service Centre ($395,000) and intersection improvements at the Hume Highway/Great Alpine Road interchange ($385,000).

Goulburn Valley Highway

The Prime Minister, John Howard, announced in March 1998 the Federal Government’s commitment to upgrade the Goulburn Valley Highway progressively.  Since then, the Federal Government has funded the first stages of this work - the $53 million Hume Highway to Nagambie section (now opened) and the Murchison East Deviation - and begun planning future works.  Currently, priority is being given to the Murchison East deviation and the Strathmerton deviation.

The total cost of the Goulburn Valley Highway upgrading now stands at $730 million.

Hume Freeway to Nagambie - The Goulburn Valley Highway duplication from the Hume Freeway to Nagambie has opened to traffic.  The 16 km duplication cost $53 million.

Nagambie bypass - The Federal Government has agreed to fund a planning study of the 16 km Nagambie bypass, committing $2 million to this task over the years 2000-01 and 2001-02.  The study will lead to reservation of a new highway alignment most probably running east of town.

A planning day held on 15 March 2001 sought community attitudes to a bypass or other traffic management solution for the highway and reviewed the project objectives.

The meeting identified several common themes:

an alternative heavy vehicle bypass using existing streets was not acceptable.  The community wanted a true highway bypass of Nagambie with a north and south interchange access;

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the northern interchange needs to be no further than just north of Kirwins Bridge Road; and ●

the identified corridor for a bypass would be to the east of town, further east than the Railway line and west of McDonalds Road. ●

A community consultative group has developed an action plan that identifies a need for further investigation of a number of matters, including:

finalising the consultative committee membership; ● investigating the likely costs of moving the railway line at Nagambie; ● ascertaining the likely impact of a bypass on retailers; ● the type of tourism signage that would attract highway users on a bypass to

the town; and ●

ongoing communication through a community newsletter. ●

Among other issues raised at the planning day were the need to minimise the impact of any bypass on viable farming land, possible traffic noise affecting the amenity of the historic town, the need for good east-west movements along Ballantynes Road and improved wildlife corridors.

Construction funds have not been allocated to this project and won’t be until the route has been decided and the scope of works determined and accurately costed.

In the meantime, the Federal Government will meet the $100,000 cost of installing pedestrian-activated traffic signals on the existing highway through Nagambie to address safety.

Murchison East deviation - Construction of the dual carriageway 19 km Murchison East deviation has started.  Costs to the Commonwealth in 2001-02 are $25 million.  Additional payments will be made in subsequent years.

Murchison East is located 36 km south of Shepparton. It is proposed to eliminate a highway ‘dog leg’ and dangerous rail level crossing at Murchison East by diverting the highway between Wahring and south of Kialla West to a more direct route along the East Goulburn main irrigation channel. Help phones located every five kilometres are among the safety enhancements proposed.

The highway would divert north of Deanes Road to cross the East Goulburn Main Channel just north of the Longwood-Murchison Road to then follow the channel on its eastern side. The channel is crossed again before connecting with the existing

highway at Moorilim.

Design features include:

rationalisation of intersections to the Wahring Roadhouse, Dargalong Road and Douglas Road, as well as a full interchange with the Violet Town-Murchison Road. Provision will be made for southerly-oriented ramps and future interchange at Dargalong Road. Ultimately, the Douglas Road intersection would be replaced with an overpass;

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separation of the highway and the Melbourne-Shepparton-Tocumwal railway line; ●

three crossings of the main irrigation channel; ● stock underpasses at McMasters Road, Pretty John Road and north of the Violet Town-Murchison Road interchange; ●

a truck parking bay southbound adjacent to the irrigation channel; and ● bridges for passage of flood flows at Pranjip Creek and McMasters Breakaway. ●

The initial development involves construction of an overpass at the Tocumwal Railway.  It will incorporate a half-diamond interchange to Melbourne-bound on-ramp access from the existing highway from Murchison.  An off-ramp on the Shepparton-bound carriageway will provide access to the existing highway to Murchison.  The interchange will allow for north-south stock movements beneath the overpass, adjacent and east of the Tocumwal Railway.

The project involves five twin bridge structures and three Crown stock underpasses.  Five farm stock underpasses are proposed also to permit local stock movements between severed farming parcels and local roads.

No direct property access to the new highway alignment will be permitted.  Instead, access will be via the existing road network and several new frontage roads.  Extensive landscaping includes a linear park along the length of the deviation.  A southbound truck parking bay is proposed between Deanes Road and the Wahring-Euroa Road, while a site for a rest area on the northbound carriageway has been incorporated in planning for the adjoining Arcadia section.

Possible impacts on the Calder Woodburn Avenue of Honour trees, south of Baliffs Road, will be minimised through the temporary use of steel wire barriers where the four-lane deviation converges back into the existing two-lane road at the northern end of the proposed works.

Arcadia section planning - A future duplication of the existing highway on the west side between Moorilim and the Shepparton bypass southern extremity south of Union Road has been planned. However, funding for the 11 km upgrading has not been allocated.  A planning study was developed in conjunction with the Murchison East deviation study, but no further activity is scheduled apart from a conservation management plan to assist in the long term management of the Calder Woodburn

Memorial Avenue. The Avenue of Honour would be retained in a wide median. Plans include a future interchange at Arcadia Road.

Shepparton bypass - The Goulburn Valley Highway bisects residential areas and the business centre at Shepparton.  It carries the highest volume of traffic and has the highest crash rate along the whole route.  Commencing in January 1995, corridor options for a bypass were identified and assessed; preliminary route options within these corridors were examined and an Environmental Effects Statement prepared for three likely routes (western, central and eastern).  An independent panel convened to assess the options chose an eastern alignment as a new highway corridor, but the Victorian Government has rejected this finding.

It has since re-examined the western (W1) option.  The formal exhibition period for the supplementary environmental effects statement concluded on 5 February 2001.

The Federal Government’s position is that it will not fund any additional planning work, or consider further funding, unless the benefits of the revised W1 route are compared openly against the E1 eastern option selected by the independent panel.  The Victorian Government has given this undertaking.

The Federal Government has not yet committed to any route, nor has it agreed to fund the Shepparton bypass.  Construction of a bypass would cost an estimated $350 million.

Strathmerton deviation - The existing Goulburn Valley Highway route through State Forest south of  Tocumwal is sub-standard and subject to flooding.  It has a high crash rate, particularly involving commercial vehicles.  It is estimated that construction of a 27 km two-lane deviation between Strathmerton and the Murray River bridge at Tocumwal will return high economic benefits as a result of travel distance savings of approximately nine kilometres.

The Federal Government previously allocated $2 million for a planning study.  Now complete, it recommends a new highway alignment that cuts diagonally across from the Goulburn Valley Highway west of Strathmerton to Sheepwash Creek, then follows the Seymour-Tocumwal railway line connecting with the existing Murray River bridge at Tocumwal.

This alignment would greatly improve travelling conditions for motorists using the current highway through Strathmerton, Yarroweyah and along the notorious ‘bends’ on the southern approach to Tocumwal.

The timing of construction for this project depends on the availability of funds and priority relative to other projects scheduled for the National Highway.  At this stage, the construction focus for the Goulburn Valley Highway lies south of Shepparton.

Western Highway

The principal interstate road link between Melbourne and Adelaide, the Western Highway carries more than 40,000 vehicles daily between Melbourne and Ballarat

and 4000 vehicles west of Ballarat to the South Australian border.  It serves the outer western suburbs of Melbourne - one of the most rapidly developing residential and industrial areas in Australia.

In terms of freight carried, the Western Highway is the second busiest National Highway link in Australia, with more than five million tonnes of freight movements annually.

Hopkins Road interchange - The intersection of Hopkins Road (Melton-Werribee Road) with the Western Freeway at Rockbank was improved using Black Spot Program funds in 1989 and 1991, but a long term solution to the congestion and crashes at this location is an elevated interchange. The $13.1 million interchange is proceeding. A sum of $3.30 million will be spent in 2001-02.

The interchange is expected to improve dramatically the safety for drivers travelling between the highway and Hopkins Road - the main route from Melton to Werribee.

The project incorporates a highway overbridge and a series of on and off ramps to cater for interruption-free traffic movements through the intersection. Under the proposal, Hopkins Road traffic will be carried on an overpass above the Western Freeway, linking to Neales Road West. A roundabout will be built where this elevated roadway intersects Government Road and on-off ramps installed to the freeway. Existing accesses to the Western Freeway from Deanside Drive, Sinclairs Road and Hopkins Road will be closed.

Leakes Road interchange - The Federal Government has approved a $130,000 planning study into the timing and design of a traffic interchange at Leakes Road, Rockbank, but it has not yet approved the project for construction funding. The study will define the interchange layout, resolve access control issues and allow a local planning scheme amendment to occur ahead of construction. Only when an accurate cost of the planned interchange is made can its priority in the Federal Government’s National Highway Program be established.  Associated access restoration between Deanside Drive and Ferris Road will be considered as part of a new interchange.

Traffic lights - Traffic lights will be installed on the Bacchus Marsh-Gisbourne Road ramp at a cost of $400,000.

Safety improvements - Additional street lighting will be installed at the Western Highway intersection with the Ballarat-Burrumbeet Road intersection to improve night-time driving conditions ($150,000).

Armstrong underpass - The Western Highway will be realigned at Armstrong, near Ararat, under a $10.2 million plan that receives funding of $8.2 million in the 2001-02 Federal Budget.

The existing highway passes beneath the railway line in an underpass that is only 8.1 metres wide, instead of the desired 12 metres.  The height restriction is just 4.6 metres.  These constraints, together with a speed restriction of 80 kph and curves on

both approaches combine to make the underpass a high crash risk.  High vehicles must detour along a local road to an uncontrolled level crossing over the railway line.  This creates added risk of an crash occurring. 

A 4.2 km deviation of the Western Highway will proceed later this year.  It involves construction of a highway overpass above the interstate track, a bridge and three other structures over watercourses.

Horsham safety improvements - To address safety, pedestrian signals will be installed at the intersection of Ballie Street/McPherson Street at Horsham ($30,000) and a school speed zone will be instituted on Dimboola Road outside Horsham College ($20,000).

Intersection improvements - The Western Highway junction with the Dimboola-Rainbow Road will be improved at a cost of $300,000 in 2001-02.

Horsham-South Australian border - A major $42 million program is under way to complete 36 km of widening and reconstruction west of Horsham.  Almost half of this funding is being spent on the section between Kiata and Nhil.  Eleven million dollars will be spent on the Kiata-Nhill works in 2001-02.  A further $22 million is being spent between Nhil and Merwyn Swamp, of which $800,000 has been scheduled in 2001-02. (Nearly $7 million was spent on this section in 2000-01.)

The works include pavement reconstruction through Nhill, on the eastern approaches to Kaniva, on approaches to Kaniva bridge and shoulder sealing west of Horsham and east of Kiata.

The widening and rehabilitation projects will improve safety, decrease travel times and vehicle operating costs, as well as reduce highway maintenance costs.

Planning

Sturt Highway

Mildura heavy vehicle bypass study - The Federal Government will provide $100,000 to investigate options for re-routing heavy vehicle traffic around Mildura.  The heavy vehicle bypass study will proceed during the next six months.  It will focus initially on traffic management and operational issues associated with a possible alternative new corridor along Seventh Street East and Benetook Avenue, but may ultimately influence traffic planning and development in the city during the next decade.

Currently, heavy vehicles use the Sturt Highway, which directs interstate highway traffic along Seventh Street and Deakin Avenue through Mildura.

The study will encompass:

the future functions of Deakin Avenue; ● the future role of Seventh Street East and Benetook Avenue in the movement ●

of interstate traffic from New South Wales to Victoria and South Australia; and the future role of the Calder Highway between Seventh Street East/Benetook Avenue and the Sturt Highway. ●

Vicroads, working in conjunction with the Mildura Rural City Council, will now proceed to implement the study and prepare a report by the end of the year.

Nearby the Federal Government has allocated safety and urgent minor works funds to introduce a variable 40 kph school speed zone on the Sturt Highway at Mildura South Primary School.  Funding will provide for variable speed limit signs equipped with yellow flashing lights to identify to motorists the school speed zone.

In addition, the traffic signals at Eleventh Street will be remodelled at a cost of $120,000 to address driver safety.           Last Updated: 22/05/2001

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