Call to prioritise unstable cliff faces in $50m Great Ocean Road repairs

A PORT Campbell tourism operator has called for VicRoads to fix unstable cliff faces as a top priority in its $50 million repair program for the Great Ocean Road.

John McInerney criticised the state government and roads authority for allocating $1.2m to repair a one-kilometre road section near the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter factory at Allansford.

“I would have thought stabilising the cliff faces and improving drainage would have been top priority,” the Port Campbell Progress Association treasurer said.

“If a section of the road closes because of collapse, tourists will stay away and that would be catastrophic for some towns.

“Serious collapses could close the road for months and that would affect a lot of businesses.

“Past experience shows tourists don’t come when they know there’s a long detour.”

The state and federal governments have each contributed $25m for works along most of the iconic road, which services about 4.7 million visitors a year. Before last year’s federal elections there was criticism over inadequate funding to bring it up to standard.

In a prepared statement, VicRoads’ regional director William Tieppo did not say what works had been scheduled around Port Campbell and reiterated the authority’s plans for Anglesea, Lorne and Allansford. 

“Investigation works are scheduled to begin early this year, with some construction taking place later in 2014, when the weather is conducive to roadworks,” Mr Tieppo said. 

He said a five-year funding plan would be prepared, targeting landslip sites, drainage and barriers. 

The authority has promised to keep the door open on talks with the coastal towns about where it will spend the money. 

“VicRoads will be consulting with key stakeholders including local councils, the tourism and freight industries and community groups to prepare a management strategy for the Great Ocean Road,” Mr Tieppo said. 

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