THE Federal Government has expressed interest in a proposed $85m upgrade of a dangerous section of the Western Highway, according to Moorabool Shire Mayor Peter Russell.
Cr Russell, who met recently with Roads Minister Jim Lloyd, said he was optimistic the Commonwealth would support construction of a proposed deviation at Anthony's Cutting .
"The proposed Djerriwarrh Creek/Anthony's Cutting deviation was positively received by Minister Lloyd," he said.
"He (Mr Lloyd) envisaged serious consideration for funding in the 2009 AusLink document, subject to receiving support from the State Government."
Cr Russell said he would seek to meet with Victorian Transport Minister Peter Batchelor at the earliest opportunity to discuss the state's commitment to the project.
"The State Government's support to this project is critical," he said.
"Firstly by nominating the project as a state priority, and then secondly contributing the AusLink state share value of approximately $16 million."
It was estimated that the Western Hwy Djerriwarrh Creek deviation at Anthony's Cutting would cost $85 million.
Cr Russell said transport operators and motorists driving between Ballarat and Melbourne were expected to benefit from the proposed upgrade.
The proposal aims to overcome the issue of sub-standard curves and grades at the current crossing point.
Cr Russell said the area was the only section of the Western Hwy between Ballarat and Melbourne not up to freeway standard.
The accident rate along Anthony's Cutting is more than double the state average.
Cr Russell said that independent research commissioned from Sinclair Knight Mertz indicated that the project had a "commendable cost benefit ratio of 5:5".
"What that means is there is a higher appreciation value in savings in vehicle operating costs to reduce accident rates and in travel time," he said.
"This would have to be one of the highest ratios for a road project in the state."
Cr Russell said the talks with Mr Lloyd had left him feeling "very positive", but that the community must also get behind the project.
"The community needs to remind the state and federal governments about this particular project. It has a strong benefit for Western Victoria, in particular Ballarat. It's a project well worth supporting."