WEATHER will be the deciding factor as to whether the Burrumbeet to Beaufort section of the Western Highway duplication project opens before the end of the year.
The project is on time, according to VicRoads Western Highway project director Michael McCarthy, who said works would ramp up over the summer to take advantage of better weather.
However, the region’s infamous weather could push the completion date for that section of the
project into 2015.
“It will depend on the weather from now until autumn as to where our finish date lands,” Mr McCarthy said. “If we get a good run in the spring, it will be pretty close to the end of the year.”
However, drivers will notice a difference before this with some parts of the journey switching over to new sections of the highway.
Mr McCarthy also confirmed that on completion of the entire project from Ballarat to Stawell, the road would be subject to 110km/h speed limits.
That does not include the sections of the highway which will still pass through towns.
One thing drivers may notice is the eye-catching works on the Western Highway overpass which will allow the Avenue of Honour to be reconnected.
Mr McCarthy said VicRoads had worked with the Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee on this section of road.
“So what it incorporates is the bridge, which is built higher than what it needs to be for engineering standards to allow the trees to grow underneath,” Mr McCarthy said.
Funding for the entire Western Highway duplication project is yet to be obtained, with Mr McCarthy saying $505 million was guaranteed so far, which would take the construction to the western side of Buangor.
However, Mr McCarthy said he expected to hear about future funding before May.
“We have put in a submission for that saying ‘here is the scope and here is the funding that is required’,” he said. “We would expect to know by the May budget.
“It is a good project and there is a lot of community support but there are competing priorities with similar projects around Australia so, while we think it is a good project, there is probably other people who think the same thing about their project.”
Planning has been completed for the entire project from Ballarat to Stawell.
Mr McCarthy said it was important drivers paid attention to the signage in the area.
“We are working pretty hard to minimise the number of ups and downs in the speed limit,” he said.
“They really just need to obey the speed signs, keep an eye out for workers and a lot of trucks which will be entering and exiting. There will be signs along the road.”