A VicRoads pledge to become more transparent with the public about country roads is drawing a mixed response from the south-west.
At a press conference on Tuesday, outgoing VicRoads chief John Merritt and Roads Minister Luke Donnellan released the Country Roads, Your Insights, Our Actions report after long-running consultation across regional Victoria. The report’s release is timed with a new online portal that tracks road repairs and maintenance, but makes no funding commitments.
Moyne Shire councillor Daniel Meade, who had encouraged the south-west to get involved in the engagement process, said “there was still a long way to go” for the region’s roads to get the attention they required.
“It’s baby steps,” he said. “There’s not a lot of concrete commitments in it.”
Cr Meade said the grouping within the report of the south-west with the Barwon region, which includes Geelong, was problematic as most of the focus would be on the larger regional centre.
“It’s a bit disappointing. It means the roads that most need help don’t get the attention they deserve,” he said.
“We need to keep advocating for our road network and keep demonstrating the importance of getting our rural produce to the metropolitan areas.”
On Facebook, many readers called for the return of the Country Roads Board and one labelled the announcement “out of touch”. Another likened it to an episode of political satire Utopia.
The Country Roads, Your Insights, Our Actions report lists the major concerns for the Barwon south-west region as including the reconstruction of the roads serving the Port of Portland; improving the Great Ocean Road, including more inland routes to relieve congestion; widening narrow roads used by trucks, buses and tourists; and providing safer cycling opportunities.
Visit https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/planning-and-projects/country-roads-your-insights-our-actions to see the full report.