SCHOOL students playing Russian roulette with traffic on a busy road will be the main beneficiaries of a new $4.3 million overpass announced yesterday.
The overpass over the ring road and railway line at Portland will improve safety and also make life easier for truckies servicing the busy port.
Hundreds of students and local residents take a risk crossing the Henty Highway ring road each day.
There are also more trucks and trains travelling to the port of Portland each year with the increase in blue gum harvesting, transport of mineral sands from the Hamilton area, wind farm construction and grain exports.
With this in mind, work on the safety project will begin early next year.
Announcing the overpass yesterday, member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said that in the 2011/12 financial year the port of Portland handled a record five million tonnes of trade.
“It is expected that with trade through the port continuing to grow, expert advice reports that there could be up to 97 trucks per hour using the ring road, making this crossing extremely dangerous.
“Replacing the traffic lights with a pedestrian overpass is the safest way for schoolchildren and other pedestrians to cross this busy road safely.”
Dr Napthine said that because the overpass was close to the Fawthrop Lagoon, a range of studies had been conducted including examination of the potential environmental and cultural heritage impacts. “These investigations have assisted in determining a suitable design and location for the overpass,” he said.