COUNTRY Victorians will have access to information about the condition of country roads, road works and upgrades as part of a massive overhaul of the way VicRoads manages the road network.
Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan, joined VicRoads Chief Executive John Merritt on Tuesday to announce a bold plan of action based on the feedback from 11,000 Victorians, 700 stakeholders and 30 councils.
Victorians will now be able to log on to a digital dashboard on the VicRoads website to track progress on road upgrades, pot-hole repairs and other maintenance efforts. A new international star rating tool will be rolled out, starting with the 20 most dangerous country roads, that will help inform future safety investments and encourage people to drive to local road conditions.
Victorians have told VicRoads they want greater transparency about road conditions and the work VicRoads is doing, from roadside drainage to fixing pot-holes and providing safer overtaking opportunities.
The “Country Roads, Your Insights, Our Actions” report also responds to the changing face of farming in Victoria, with a new harvest scheme and red tape removal giving oversized agricultural equipment greater access to the roads.
More than 850 kilometres of deteriorating roads in regional Victoria are now being rebuilt thanks to a $260 million maintenance boost from the State Government this year alone. Work is ramping up in every region, from major highway duplications to improved signage and road safety treatments that will significantly reduce run off road or head-on crashes on major rural highways.
Other key initiatives to modernise the network includea new approach to prioritising road upgrades that considers economic benefits and regional priorities, as well as a review of road signage across the state.
The community feedback is also informing Transport for Victoria’s development of aregional roads strategy.
“We’re investing more than ever before to modernise the state’s road network, keep people informed and keep people safe,” Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan, said.
VicRoads Chief Executive, John Merritt, said, “Country Roads sums up what VicRoads heard and saw across country Victoria, it sets out a bold plan of action to rebuild our regional road network to support a new era of regional prosperity.”
“People have told us loud and clear: fix the roads that need fixing because they are our lifelines, and that is exactly what we’ll do,” Mr Merritt said.
Member for Lowan, EmmaKealy, said funding for a ‘Country Roads’ webpage announced by the Government is nothing more than a cheap stunt that doesn’t contain one extra cent to fix country roads.
“Calling the new webpage ‘Country Roads’ and trying to convince country people this is real money to fix country roads is nothing more than a cynical stunt by the Andrews Labor Government. Country people aren’t stupid, and we know full well that a website won’t fix one pothole,” Ms Kealy said.
Ms Kealy said that the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan, announced a new VicRoads website claiming it’s a ‘bold plan’ that will keep people informed and keep people safe.
“Local people don’t want a webpage to tell them how many potholes they have to dodge on country roads. What our people want are the potholes in country roads fixed,” Ms Kealy said.
“Labor’s record on country roads is appalling. In their first year of Government Daniel Andrews cut the highly successful Nationals Country Roads and Bridges Program, and further cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the VicRoads road assetmanagement budget,” she said.
“Daniel Andrews and his Government must immediately reverse their extensive cuts to the country roads budget and reinstate the Country Roads and Bridges Program.”
“If Daniel Andrews is serious about saving country lives then Labor must immediately fix our country roads.”
Member for Mildura, Peter Crisp, has slammed Labor’s ‘bold plan’ to fix country Victoria’s deteriorating road network; a new website.
“Under Labor, potholes and dangerously uneven road surfaces are just a part of everyday travel, Country Victorians don’t need a website to tell us regional and rural roads have been seriously neglected by the Andrews Labor Government,” Mr Crisp said.
“If the Andrews Labor Government wants to make Victoria’s roads safer, it should start with reinstating the funding for maintenance cut when it axed the $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program,” he said.
“Unfortunately the Minister’s ‘bold plan’ doesn’t include a cent of new investment to fix country roads.”
“The only ‘bold’ part of the plan is its absolute determination to ignore the needs of country Victorians.”
Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh, said,
“Country Victorians don’t need a website to tell us regional and rural roads have been seriously neglected by the Andrews Labor Government.”
“Despite the potholes and dangerously uneven surfaces littering our country road network, the Andrews Labor Government refuses to reverse its decision to axe the Liberal Nationals’ successful $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program,” Mr Walsh said.