Progress on the Ballarat to Meredith stretch of the Midland Highway looks set to remain at a standstill despite the government preparing to undertake extensive work on the road between Geelong and Bannockburn.
Traffic was slowed to a crawl during a crash about five kilometres north of Meredith in February this year, while in 2015 a man was killed in a crash near Scotsburn.
In 2005, then-Meredith Senior Constable Mick Rooney described the highway as a “corridor of death”, following a series of fatalities.
Ballarat resident Ron Morrison, who also owns a property on the surf coast, said the road was in “shocking condition” considering it was the main arterial between two of the state’s biggest cities.
Drivers are forced to slow to 80 km/h on a portion of the highway near Bannockburn due to the poor road condition.
“(The government is) worried about the death toll on the highway but if you want to sit back and watch there will be more fatalities,” Mr Morrison said. “For all the money which is being spent on metropolitan areas there really should be a good road between Ballarat and Geelong.”
VicRoads is currently in the early stages of preparing four new passing lanes between Meredith and Bannockburn, with construction set to begin later this year. The state government pledged $10 million to the project in 2016.
A $2 million commitment from the state and federal governments to investigate potential upgrades in the growth corridor between Geelong and Bannockburn may eventually result in full duplication, with a business case expected to be delivered in 2018.
Despite this extensive funding towards the southern end of the road, a 2015 VicRoads study found there was already sufficient opportunities for passing between Ballarat and Meredith even in locations which do not have dedicated passing lanes.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said “we have two business cases due by the end of the year that will provide a blueprint for reducing congestion to both the south and north of Ballarat”.
As recently as November 2016 Buninyong MP Geoff Howard said that Ballarat to Meredith stretch was not a priority, saying “in the years to come there will be the assessment of further duplication depending on usage patterns”.