VicRoads highway maintenance: push to provide more information

State government Roads Minister Luke Donnellan and VicRoads chief executive John Merritt.
State government Roads Minister Luke Donnellan and VicRoads chief executive John Merritt.

Regional residents have voiced their displeasure at the state of Ballarat roads loud and clear during a 12-month long VicRoads consultation program.

Community and stakeholder meetings were hosted across the state, with the issue of poor maintenance a common theme.

Despite the focus on transparency, the announcement did not come with any new strategies to address local government shortfalls in road maintenance.

Outgoing VicRoads chief executive John Merritt said VicRoads was being brutally honest about the work it was doing.

“The issue of maintenance weighed heavily, with criticisms at times of the work we are doing,” he said.

“People want more visibility and more data on roads.”

Although VicRoads has announced a new website with up-to-date data on its road maintenance program, no new major projects resulted from the consultation.

A rating tool to measure the dangers of country roads, starting with the state’s 20 most accident prone highways, was also announced.

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the biggest challenge was accommodating the fast growing regional centres in Victoria.

“We have doubled the spend on road maintenance and identified where freight upgrades need to happen,” he said.

“Rural and regional Victoria has grown faster in the past 12 months than anywhere else.”

Opposition Western Victorian MP Joshua Morris said it was insulting that the government would create a website to tell people in regional Victoria about the conditions of the roads.

“We know the atrocious condition they are in and just want them fixed,” he said.

“Daniel Andrews' approach to road safety on country roads is to lower speed limits on our crumbling roads.

“Rather than lowering speed limits Labor should just fix our roads.”

However Mr Merritt said during a press conference on Tuesday that speed limits would not be lowered without community consultation first.

“We are committed to a local approach because there will always be disagreement for those for who roads are part of their and those travelling through.”

Projects already underway included overtaking lanes on the Midland Highway from Ballarat to Geelong, while wire barriers were being added between Ballarat and Creswick.

The Western Highway has been duplicated between Buangor and Ararat, while the government has also started planning for the Ararat and Beaufort bypasses.

Freight bypasses for towns were also an major talking point, including the next stage of the Ballarat Link Road project.

Funding and plans has yet to be released for the next stage between Remembrance Drive and the Glenelg Highway.

Mr Merritt said removing trucks from busy main streets was a recurring theme across the state.

“The issue of getting freight out of the centre of towns was raised, not just here, but in a number of regional cities,” he said.

“That broader issues of link roads are constantly recurring because of the importance of livability.

“The incredible importance of place is a huge part of what makes the job harder.”

The state government spent $260 million on roads maintenance in the last year.

This included fixing more than 850km of deteriorating roads.