AS flagged by The Courier on Saturday, the Victorian budget has put dollars behind some of the key priority projects for Ballarat.
The first cab off the rank is the Ballarat Western Link Road which at $38 million will link the Western Freeway and Burrumbeet Road. While the helipad and numerous other projects are begging for this kind of support, it is worth pausing on what this major road project means for Ballarat.
To the average resident stuck in traffic on Main Road, this project may sound something short of spectacular but the government is to be applauded for financially supporting a project that has a long-term vision for Ballarat.
The project has for several years been highlighted by the Ballarat City Council and the Committee for Ballarat as a key plank of an overall transport strategy ultimately connecting the Glenelg Highway with the Western Freeway.
It has also been raised as a key part in improving access to a freight hub and given increased transport access and economies, a strong selling point for the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
While it may seem that such an expensive project will mostly benefit truck drivers, it cannot be overlooked that removing large vehicles from Gillies Street and ultimately even from Doveton and Skipton streets by creating a more efficient by-pass will definitely benefit Ballarat residents.
Furthermore, creating efficient transport access has the advantage of further promoting Ballarat’s potential as a future business option. Given the unresolved nightmare that heavy transport links remain in Melbourne, particularly around the growing container port, what easy access means in time and dollars saved cannot be underestimated.
In an age when jobs become scarcer and industry hangs by a tentative thread, the long-term benefits of this project are worth considering. But while this windfall is to be applauded, The Courier reiterates it must only be the start.
The rate of growth in Ballarat, particularly in the west, must be accompanied by concurrent long-term planning. The extension of this link road needs to be investigated now, including all the options for duplicating Dysons Road.
It is already manifestly inadequate for the residential boom taking place around it in places like new-suburb Lucas or Alfredton. To avoid a future nightmare of our own making the next step must be embarked on now.