THE Commonwealth is considering fast-tracking the $50 million Great Ocean Road facelift, raising the possibility of major works beginning early next year.
The state and federal governments are jointly funding the resurfacing and landslip prevention works over the next five years but Canberra is understood to have brought forward most of its share into the current financial year.
Geelong G21 chief executive Elaine Carbines said new federal Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson had informed her of the move.
“It’s great because it shows that the new government is committed to the Great Ocean Road,” Ms Carbines said. “I’ve been briefed by Sarah Henderson and $15 million will be brought forward into this financial year.”
Ms Carbines said the highest priority was to fix the road between Lorne and Apollo Bay.
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan added a cautious voice.
“We’re looking at getting on with our election commitments but no decision has been taken,” Mr Tehan said.
Corangamite mayor Chris O’Connor said he hoped money would be spent on expanding car parks at the Twelve Apostles and Gibsons Steps.
“What we’d be hoping to see is better safety around the car park. It’s certainly an issue around peak times — cars spill out onto the Great Ocean Road itself,” Cr O’Connor said.
The mayor said there were also ongoing concerns about Moonlight Head and the poor state of arterial roads connecting to the Great Ocean Road.
Colac Otway Shire mayor Lyn Russell highlighted landslips at Mount Defiance, Cape Pattern.
She said unstable cliff bases were a problem throughout the council’s stretch of road.
VicRoads hopes to release its project plan early next year but won’t begin works during the tourist season.
“The plan will include road resurfacing and bridge upgrades; improvements to roadside maintenance including landslip and safety barrier repairs; pavement reconstruction; drainage improvements; and emergency management such as fire and emergency closure planning,” acting regional director Michael McCarthy said.
“VicRoads will work with key stakeholders including local councils and other government departments regarding issues associated with car parking facilities on the Great Ocean Road.”