MOST upgrade work along the Great Ocean Road under a new $50 million five-year improvement program will be undertaken outside peak tourism seasons, according to VicRoads.
The department’s regional manager William Tieppo told a Warrnambool community briefing meeting yesterday closures would be minimal and in some cases work would be done non-stop over 24 hours to avoid lengthy traffic delays.
“Our biggest challenge is finding windows of opportunity for pavement work,” Mr Tieppo said.
“We will not be doing major work between mid-December and the end of January.
“Usually the best times are between September and Christmas, the lead-up to Easter and then from Easter holidays to winter.”
VicRoads is collecting community feedback before it compiles a project proposal report to be delivered to state and federal authorities by Christmas.
Tenders are expected to be called early next year.
Representatives from Warrnambool City, Moyne Shire and Corangamite Shire and the tourism industry attended yesterday’s meeting, which followed similar briefings at Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay.
Mr Tieppo said main issues raised during discussions were rock falls, unstable cliff faces, overhanging trees, vegetation blocking coastal vistas and unsealed car parks.
“The bulk of the feedback is that people want a smooth road surface,” he said.
Warrnambool tourism services manager Peter Abbott said it was critical to avoid road closures where possible.
“The message is clear that discretionary travellers don’t come when they hear there’s a road closure,” Mr Abbott said.
“This road generates millions of dollars for the region.
“A patch-up is nice, but regional dispersal is the big issue. It should be added to the national road network.”
Moyne Shire physical services director Trevor Greenberger said improvements were needed on turn-in lanes, particularly at the Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands where collisions had happened.
Mr Tieppo said there was potential to widen shoulders at the entrances and make more overtaking lanes, especially between Lorne and Apollo Bay.
Corangamite Shire councillor Peter Harkin said attention should also be paid to inland routes used by tourists travelling to or from the coastal road. Federal MP for Wannon Dan Tehan said he would continue to lobby for more federal money for south-west roads and encouraged councils to identify priorities.