Mayor: new black spot road criteria 'a win'

SOUTH-WEST Victoria stands a better chance of  securing federal funds for dangerous roads under changes to Black Spot Program criteria announced yesterday by the federal government.

Investment will almost triple to $160 million annually for 2015-16 and 2016-17 with at least half dedicated to regional routes. Cost-benefit criteria and crash history threshold changes are expected to help smaller rural councils qualify for grants.

Warrnambool City mayor Michael Neoh, who was in Canberra for the announcement, said roads previously classified as grey spots would have a better chance of being  eligible for funds to improve safety.

“It’s a win,” Cr Neoh said.

“I’d imagine the new criteria will be easier to fit. Previously a lot of rural and regional roads may not have met the benefit-cost ratio.”

Cr Neoh was in the national capital as a member of the executive board of Regional Cities Australia which is lobbying for greater recognition of non-metropolitan areas.

Wannon MP Dan Tehan said the Black Spot Program changes would  ensure  more economically-productive infrastructure was built and genuine road safety solutions were implemented in the electorate.

“These changes will help address the increased risks motorists face on regional roads with the per capita risk of death or hospitalisation following a crash in a rural area significantly higher than urban areas,” he said.

“The criteria has been amended so more black spots can be fixed before they take lives and cause serious injuries.”

Mr Tehan, who chairs the Victorian Black Spot Program consultative panel, encouraged Wannon residents — particularly councils — to complete an online nomination form highlighting dangerous roads.

Accident history criteria has been reduced from three to two casualty crashes in five years