ROADS Minister Terry Mulder has put the brakes on calls for a third sharing lane on the Princes Highway west, saying the government won’t support the idea until it’s backed up by studies.
South-west councils and VicRoads have been exploring the possibility of an extra lane from Colac through to the South Australian border that would allow traffic to alternate between flexible barriers.
Mr Mulder said the proposal needed to be investigated.
“It’s a brave call to say this is what we should do when you don’t know if it will work in this environment,” Mr Mulder said.
“They do have them in Europe but they’re different road environments.
‘‘Until you undertake a complete and total assessment of the road you can’t come out and call it.”
Premier Denis Napthine has voiced his opposition to the idea, but Mr Mulder said road experts were now overseas to see if the idea was feasible.
“If we think it poses some potential for certain hotspots it may well be appropriate.”
The $257.5 million duplication of the Princes Highway between Winchelsea and Colac was approved in the May state budget.
Mr Mulder said the government would continue to build more passing lanes between Colac and the border.
The federal Coalition pledged at the 2010 election to duplicate the Princes Highway between Colac and the South Australian border funded through a public-private partnerships.
Great South Coast chairman Chris O’Connor said that was unrealistic.
“We’d rather see a concept that was achievable in our lifetime,” Cr O’Connor said.
“Once the double lanes are completed to Colac I don’t think people realise how much traffic is going to be directed on to Princes Highway west.
“We don’t think more passing lanes are a good idea.”
VicRoads regional director William Tieppo confirmed the roads agency was exploring the concept.
“Treatments are being investigated that reduce the severity of vehicle crashes, reducing the risk of run-off road incidents and head-on collisions,” he said yesterday.
‘‘As part of this investigation VicRoads is also considering the use of road safety initiatives that have proved to be successful overseas in reducing crashes.’’