MORE than $5 million will be spent on fixing trouble spots along the infamously potholed Heywood-Woolsthorpe Road, with cash secured in the state budget.
The $5.3 million cash injection will be spent at four spots in the Broadwater, Bessiebelle, Warrong and Willatook sections of the road following several years of campaigning by landholders and the freight industry.
Premier Denis Napthine inspected the road at the weekend and told The Standard that cash for the arterial link was one project in a statewide initiative to improve regional roads.
It is anticipated that work will start on the Heywood-Woolsthorpe Road in spring once the winter wet weather dissipates.
“The Heywood-Woolsthorpe Road is a major link for a number of communities through south-west Victoria and this $5 million package acknowledges this,” Dr Napthine, who is also South West Coast MP, said.
“Plenty of heavy vehicles use the road. Milk tankers heading from farms to Murray Goulburn in Koroit or further away to Fonterra and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.
“Many people in the Heywood area also use it as an alternative to the Princes Highway when heading east to Warrnambool, Geelong, Melbourne.”
The Broadwater section of the south-west link is located near the intersection with the Port Fairy-Hamilton Road while the Warrong and Willatook sections are located south and east of Hawkesdale respectively.
It is envisaged the 77km road will be brought up to C-class status over the coming years and the $5 million package represents the first stage of an extensive renovation.
Roads to Ruin campaign director Jodi Fry said it was a big win for farmers and transport operators who frequent the cross-country route.
The Broadwater farmer said many parts of the Heywood-Woolsthorpe Road were only single laneway and there were several patches where the thoroughfare was distinctly unsafe.
“It’s great news — we’ve been waiting for a long time but it’s great that we’ve finally got to this point,” Mrs Fry said.
“If you drive along the road, you know why it needs funding. It’s potholed nearly every kilometre, the sides of the road have almost disappeared and you have the dangerous parts where it goes from dual lane to single lane back to dual lane.”
Mrs Fry started the Roads to Ruin campaign in February 2012, rallying transport operators and landholders frustrated with the condition of several south-west roads, particularly Heywood-Woolsthorpe Road.
“It’s good to see the government listening because others in the past have just turned a blind eye to the problem,” she said.