TWO Moyne Shire councillors have claimed $362 million funding for the proposed Princes Highway duplication stage between Winchelsea and Colac should have been spent on major trucking routes in other parts of the south-west.
Mayor James Purcell and former mayor Jim Doukas said greater priority should be directed at strengthening all main road freight routes and rail links in the region.
They feared the total federal and state allocation of $580m for duplication of the highway section betwen Colac and Waurn Ponds could jeopardise the region’s chances of getting further major government roads grants for decades.
Cr Doukas called for a halt to final approval of the Colac to Winchelsea stage, which is scheduled to go into construction mode next year. “Where was the business case justification for this expenditure?” he asked
“The real issue is roads are damaged by trucks, not cars.
“Governments are spending money in the wrong place with $10m per kilometre on the Princes Highway duplication.
“Most truck traffic is coming from the north and west of the region, not cars on the Princes Highway east of Colac.
“The percentage of trucks compared to cars is higher on the Hamilton Highway than the Princes Highway.”
Cr Purcell said it was too late to halt the duplication project second stage, but there was time to find new ways of funding road upgrades.
“VicRoads has estimated it will take $220m to bring arterial roads in the Western District up to the standard of routes in northern and eastern Victoria,” he said.
“Highway duplication is good, but it was based on political loyalties rather than practical logic.
“Our arterial road network is going backwards at a great rate of knots.
“We will be seeing a lot more grain freight from the north and dairy produce in the future.
“This is not the end, it is only the beginning.
“The road freight and traffic movement information has already been identified, it’s just a matter of spending the money.
“Rail is a big answer and there needs to be more intermodal freight hubs.
“Business will only grow if there is a good transport network.”