ADVOCATES for the Princes Highway upgrade say they weren't surprised the project wasn't picked up in the latest funding blitz by the state government.
But they argue the project remains crucial to getting produce to market and once given the green light it will provide hundreds of jobs and a huge boost to the region's economy.
On Monday a spokesman for the state government said the Hamilton Highway was the only south-west road which would benefit from the $58 million committed to road maintenance and resurfacing.
Princes Highway West Action Alliance (PHWAA) spokesman Trevor Greenberger said he was not surprised to see the project miss out this time because it was not as "shovel ready" as the other projects.
He said he was heartened by Premier Daniel Andrews intention of a further $180 million funding package to plan for accelerated works.
"PHWAA has completed a concept plan for duplication from the Dennington bridge to the Southern Cross turn off," he said.
"It is up to the state now to develop construction plans which I hope will be fast-tracked in coming announcements."
A 2019 analysis of the region's dairy industry predicted an increase in milk production of 20 per cent over the next 25 years, with an expected 30 per cent increase in the tonnages that will be carried across the region's road network.
"The stats clearly show that volume of traffic and pressure on this stretch of highway is only going to increase, and a dangerous stretch of road is only going to get worse," Mr Greenberger said.
"Add to that the fact that our Dairy Supply Chain study has already identified a positive cost benefit ratio of 2.45 over a ten-year period if we can get our road network up to scratch.
"Given the Princes Highway is a key route to get valuable products to market and the project will provide tens of millions into the economy, I am confident that the state will see the sense in getting this project underway as soon as possible."
The federal government has committed $60 million for the upgrade, but in order to get the project off the ground the state government will have to chip in at least $20 million.
Warrnambool mayor Tony Herbert echoed Mr Greenberger and said he was continuing to advocate for the project.
He said he'd recently spoken to Wannon MP Dan Tehan who met with deputy prime minister Michael McCormack to work with the state government to secure the funding.
Cr Herbert said the federal government had come to the table with "a fair bucket of money" and once completed the project would be a game changer for the region.
"It would create hundreds of jobs," he said. "It would mean we could get more produce around the state and that's got to be good for the state."
The state government's funding was to get big and small projects off the ground and people back into work in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said the Princes Highway project, particularly between Port Fairy and Warrnambool, had been ignored.
"There is $60 million from the federal government that has been sitting on the table for a year, the state Labor Government is refusing to do anything with it, refusing to make a contribution to unlock that cash," she said.
"Last week the Liberal Nationals launched our plan to get Victoria back to work and back in business - our plan included immediately beginning work on key road upgrades, including the Princes Highway West."