AN estimated $460 million is needed to fix Warrnambool and the south-west’s transport woes.
That’s the estimate of the RACV in a new report about the region’s growing pains.
In it, the RACV says another railway passing loop, increased services on the Melbourne to Warrnambool rail line, duplication of the Princes Highway between Port Fairy and Colac and an upgrade of the Warrnambool railway station are needed to address current transport needs and ensure adequate infrastructure for the future.
RACV sought the opinion of community groups, its own members and key transport stakeholders via a survey to develop a blueprint for transport needs in regional cities. It asked respondents to rate certain aspects of local transport infrastructure.
Survey respondents were scathing of the south-west’s road infrastructure, rating local highways 4.35 out of 10 and other local roads 4.42.
V/Line trains were also rated poorly, scoring 4.80 out of 10, while local buses were rated 6.15, footpaths 6.07 and off-road bike paths 5.95.
Great South Coast Group chairman and Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor said the report highlighted areas councils and the Great South Coast Group were already advocating.
Cr O’Connor said he believed it was highly unlikely the Princes Highway would be duplicated, but the two-plus-one style road which the Great South Coast Group is proposing was a more likely option.
“The focus is on the Western Highway, which sees much more truck traffic than the Princes Highway,” he said.
“We understand that and understand there isn’t an endless supply of money.
“But the two-plus-one style we are advocating is cheap, safe and would provide a solution to the safe overtaking problems in that area, which are mentioned in the report. VicRoads is also very supportive of that idea.”
Warrnambool City mayor and chairman of Regional Cities Victoria Michael Neoh called on the state government and the state opposition to adopt the recommendations in the report as a matter of urgency.
Cr Neoh said the RACV had captured the need for increased rail services between Melbourne and Warrnambool beautifully.
“One new passing loop allows four services a day, but to have five daily services a second passing loop would need to be built between Terang and Colac,” he said.
“It’s really pleasing to see improved shuttle services between Geelong and Warrnambool mentioned in the report, something we have already been advocating for.”
He said improving facilities at the Warrnambool railway station was also important to ensure it was equipped to handle extra passengers, longer trains and more frequent services.