A DELAYED major Ballarat project has finally taken a big step forward, with construction expected to start in May.
A $7 million contract has been awarded to Australian construction company Hazell Bros for the 1.7-kilometre first section of stage one of the Ballarat Western Link Road.
Roads Minister Terry Mulder described the announcement as “exciting” for Ballarat, with the road seen as a key link from Learmonth Road to the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
“They (Hazell Bros) will do a lot of pre-construction work, a lot of earthmoving, landscaping,” Mr Mulder said.
“Over the winter months things will slow down a little. Straight after the winter months they will be into it full-bore.
“That project will be completed by the middle of next year.”
The project has been plagued with delays, with the road originally expected to be completed by November.
However, one of the keys to the delays has been the ongoing negotiations with the Wathaurang Aboriginal Corporation after it was discovered it the road might impact on indigenous sacred sites.
In January, Premier Denis Napthine announced tenders were open to build a 1.7-kilometre stage of the road, despite stage one of the original promised project being 4.2 kilometres in length.
The 2.5-kilometre section of the road not included in stage one was put off while further negotiations took place between the City of Ballarat and the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation to determine the best alignment of the road.
However, Mr Mulder yesterday revealed an agreement had been made concerning the alignment.
“The Ballarat City Council have come to an arrangement with the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation in relation to the next section of stage one through to Remembrance Drive,” he said.
“We are now at the stage of planning and design of that section.”
VicRoads project manager Michael McCarthy said he was very excited to get things going on the project.
“It has been a while coming through the planning process and obviously the steps we have to take but to get to the starting line for construction is great news for us,” he said.