Centre line barriers ditched from Midland Highway safety upgrade plans

Centre line barriers will not be installed on the Midland Highway between Ballarat and Creswick, VicRoads has confirmed, despite being included in initial design plans.

The revelation comes after a horror crash on the notorious stretch of highway on Wednesday afternoon, in which one man died and nine others were injured.

In a statement, Victoria Police said it was believed the car veered onto the wrong side of the road, before colliding with the bus.  

Roads and Road Safety Minister Luke Donnellan said designs for centre line barriers were excluded from upgrade plans following community consultation. 

“Over the past year, VicRoads has taken early designs for this upgrade to the community and their overwhelming preference is for wide centre lines – not a centre line barrier,” he said. 

Preliminary designs were discussed with community members at three information sessions. 

Original plans for $14.5 million road safety upgrades between Ballarat and Creswick were released in September.

It included the installation of barriers along both sides of the highway as well as through the centre line extending from Sulky to White Hills Road in Creswick.  

Wide centre lines and rumble strips to alert drivers if they veer onto the wrong side of the road are now being installed instead of centre line barriers. 

This is despite Mr Donnellan’s comments to the media at Bungor on Thursday that indicated support for centre line barriers.

“109 out of 150 accidents last year on country roads related to a vehicle going from one side of the road to another or exiting a lane and hitting trees on the side... That’s why we are doing safety barriers on the side of the road and centre lines to prevent accidents like what happened yesterday (Wednesday),” he said. 

Revised designs also exclude a 3.5km stretch of the highway between Jubilee Road to White Hills Road from receiving safety barriers, despite being included in initial designs.

VicRoads plans to install a safer ice detection system on that stretch. 

A spokesperson for Mr Donnellan did not respond to questions regarding why plans had changed, but said upgrade designs were still being refined.

The section of the highway between Heinz Lane and Western Freeway has had wide centre line treatment, rumble strip line marking and flexible safety barriers installed along both sides of the road. 

Flexible safety barriers have been installed on both sides of the road between Sulky Road and the railway crossing. A wide centre line treatment and rumble strip line marking will be installed later this year.

Flexible safety barriers will be installed on both sides of the road between Rose Hill Road and Pistol Club Road, along with a wide centre line treatment and rumble strip line marking.

VicRoads will present the final design next month at a community information session.