Western Highway travel time to give journey estimates between Ballarat and Melbourne

Rain delay: Roads and road safety minister Luke Donnellan stands in front of one of five new signs  in Warrenheip displaying travel times along the Western Highway between Ballarat and Melbourne. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Rain delay: Roads and road safety minister Luke Donnellan stands in front of one of five new signs in Warrenheip displaying travel times along the Western Highway between Ballarat and Melbourne. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Travel time uncertainty might be a thing of the past along the Western Highway, with the creation of five electronic signs to keep motorists notified. 

The first of their kind installed in regional Victoria, signs have been placed at Warrenheip, Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Rockbank to give drivers a journey time estimate.

The technology is expected to light up in the next couple of weeks, with trials already under way. 

The new signs will use bluetooth technology – commonly turned on people’s smartphones – to track how long it takes from one point to another and determine an average travel time. 

Roads and road safety minister Luke Donnellan said the notification system would mean “people don’t rush” and can reroute around large accidents or delays when they happen.  

“It gives people the information to plan their trips, so hopefully people will drive in a more calm and relaxed, rational manner,” he said. 

The section of the Western Highway is considered one of the 20 most dangerous arterial roads in regional and rural Victoria, chosen due to crash statistics and freight usage, with nine deaths and 140 serious injuries in the last five years. 

VicRoads Western region director Mal Kersting said the signs could potentially give way to more complex notification systems, such as black ice, delay details and possible detours. 

“Over time, I suspect we’ll be able to look at putting some of those devices on this highway,” he said. 

“[Sign] information is updated instantaneously, and constantly begin measured. But they’re only measuring signals that provide the estimate of time taken to travel that difference.”

The signs are part of broader safety upgrades between Ballarat and Melbourne, including the $4 million Pykes Creek Resevoir bridge strengthening, wire rope barriers installation and part of $1 million for road resurfacing at Ballan. 

The Western Highway carries 25,000 vehicles daily between Melbourne and Ballarat.