A NOTORIOUS two-kilometre stretch of the Henty Highway between Hamilton and Branxholme will be reconstructed following the state government’s announcement of a $1.2 million grant for the work.
State Transport Minister Terry Mulder announced the grant yesterday, saying it followed his meeting last year with local road users, including truck drivers.
“Their lobbying has been successful,” Mr Mulder said.
He said the $1.2 million funding was part of the state government’s additional $45 million repair and restore package for road maintenance.
The package also included a $1 million allocation for the reconstruction two 500-metre sections of the Great Ocean Road. One of the sections is at Mepunga, east of Warrnambool, and the other is at Marengo, near Apollo Bay.
However livestock carrier Trevor Fry, of Broadwater, said the reconstruction of the 2.15-kilometre section was only “a needle in the haystack” compared to the amount of other work needed on other roads in the south-west.
Mr Fry and his wife Jodi were prominent in the Roads to Ruin campaign that lifted the profile of road funding in the south-west.
He said the Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road, the Port Fairy-Hamilton highway, Spencers Road and Moyne Falls Road were among the many other routes in the south-west that needed urgent attention.
Mr Mulder said the reconstruction work on the Henty Highway was part of a broad maintenance program for the south-west road network.
“The priorities will be set by VicRoads regional management. There will be a lot of repair and resealing of the road network.”
Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty said a number of other works would be done in conjunction with the pavement reconstruction on the Henty Highway, including improved drainage at a railway crossing.
The reconstruction will soon be put out to tender and is expected to start by January 2013.
Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said the Henty Highway was an important strategic route to the port of Portland and carried a variety of freight, as well as being a key route for Heywood and Portland residents travelling to Hamilton and beyond.
A state government spokesman said much of the deterioration of the south-west road network was due to recent years of above-average rainfall after many below-average years.
However, Mr Fry said blaming the deterioration on recent wetter years was “an excuse”. The deterioration was due to a lack of road maintenance before the recent drought, he said.
Many of the roads had been built 30-40 years ago to handle trucks with a 35-tonne load and were being knocked about by B-doubles that had a 60-tonne weight, Mr Fry said.