Planning ramps up for Midland Highway overtaking lanes

VicRoads has identified sections of the Midland Highway which will receive much-needed overtaking lane works.

A $10 million allocation from the 2016-17 state budget will see four new overtaking lanes installed along the heavily used stretch between Ballarat and Geelong. The major project is expected to take three years to complete, with the stretch notoriously recognised for a lack of adequate, safe passing opportunities.

VicRoads south west regional director Mark Koliba confirmed preliminary investigations had identified six possible locations for the lanes, however, the precise sites are yet to be determined.

“A total of four locations will be constructed: two overtaking lanes proposed between Bannockburn and Lethbridge, and two between Lethbridge and Meredith,” Mr Koliba said.

“We are asking the community for their feedback about the exact location of the lanes – we encourage you to tell us what’s important to you, and whether you see any problems with the proposed locations.

“Key factors to be considered will include environmental and heritage impacts, local access requirements, drainage, available space any possible impacts to utility services.”

The highway between Ballarat and Geelong has been the site of more than a dozen crashes since 2011, with more than 5500 vehicles travelling between Bannockburn and Meredith daily – 700 of them trucks.

“There have been a number of crashes on the Midland Highway in recent years; a large percentage of which have involved a vehicle crossing the centreline and crashing into an oncoming vehicle, or alternatively, rear ending other vehicles,” Mr Koliba said.

“We’re working hard to finalise the location of the overtaking lanes to suit the future needs of residents and businesses, as well as tourists and the freight industry.”

It’s still unknown when works will begin on the first lane, or where it will be placed.

Buninyong MP Geoff Howard said the lanes would have a significant impact on safety along the stretch.

“Fortunately, the road toll on that section has dropped back substantially over the last four years, but we know that wherever people do get banked up behind slower traffic, sometimes they will take inappropriate risks,” he said.

“If we can put overtaking lanes in place, that is going to ensure those over-anxious drivers do know that they can wait to the passing loops and can pass safely.

A drop-in feedback session will be held at the Lethbridge Recreation Reserve on Friday, October 28 between 3:30pm and 6:30pm for more information on the project.