A NEW national status for the Princes Highway from Colac to South Australia's border will bolster the region's prosperous agriculture industry, a south-west mayor has said.
Corangamite Shire Council has welcomed the addition of the highway to the National Land Transport Network.
Mayor Neil Trotter said Corangamite and neighbouring Great South Coast councils had been advocating for major investment in the Princes Highway West Corridor for many years.
"This section of the Princes Highway is an absolutely vital transport link route for freight and tourism traffic which contribute massively to the local, state and national economies," Cr Trotter said.
"This region produces a third of Victoria's beef, dairy and lamb, a quarter of its wool, and a quarter of the country's dairy. Together with cropping and other commodities, the gross value of agricultural production in the region is worth $3 billion.
"The fact that the Princes Highway West has degraded to an extremely poor condition, will hopefully be remedied now that it has had a change of status."
In 2019 the council put forward a study that revealed $317 million needs to be spent over 10 years to fix crumbling major roads in the south-west as the region's dairy production and processing was predicted to increase by 20 per cent over the next 25 years.
With dairy production and processing in the south-west expected to increase to 2.5 billion litres or 89.8 million tonnes, the report identified the Princes Highway as the network spine as the main east-west link between farms, processors and the gateway to-market.
Cr Trotter said the National Land Transport Network was a defined national network of important road and rail infrastructure links which historically received federal government funding.
"Inclusion on the National Land Transport Network will ensure that the Princes Highway West is recognised and afforded appropriate funding for upgrades in keeping with its substantial strategic significance," he said.
"We are pleased to hear the Federal Government will invest $20 million by early next year for re-sheeting, shoulder sealing, and other safety improvements on the Princes Highway West.
"This is a positive step towards making a hazardous road safer for locals and visitors to use, and an efficient asset for getting our region's produce to market."
"Council and our partners in the Princes Highway West Action Alliance will continue to advocate for the Princes Highway West to be a priority project for both the Federal and State and governments."
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