SAFETY concerns and better transport routes are some the main reasons why the Victorian Farmers Federation hopes to see upgrades to the Western Highway completed.
The VFF has called on both the state and federal governments to work together and fund upgrades, including adding a dual lane, separated carriageway along the highway which is frequented by transport and freight vehicles.
VFF Grains Group president Ross Johns, of Warracknabeal, said keeping the Western Highway up to scratch would benefit the whole region.
“Having a good quality road network would make travel more safe for everyone – it’s broader than just the agriculture community. These upgrades would help bring the whole road network up to standard,” he said.
“The amount of traffic that uses that road is huge and it’s in desperate need of an upgrade. A dual carriage Western Highway is more efficient and safer for all road users as it will allow for shorter travel times and therefore less driving hours.”
The VFF hopes the duel carriageway would stretch the entirety of the Western Highway, up to the South Australian border.
Mr Johns encouraged the state and federal governments to seriously consider the VFF’s proposal.
“It is essential that the two tiers of government work together to finish the job they have started as soon as possible,” he said.
“The VFF is continuing its negotiations with the government to have modern infrastructure which is required. The most important thing is that products are able to be taken to market safely.
“More and more grain is being stored on farm as farming and marketing techniques evolve, and our road network must also evolve in line with modern day requirements.
“As a result of the ongoing drought, a lot of grain and hay is moved by truck across the country, but too often the timely transport of this is hampered by unnecessary and inconsistent regulation and indirect access due to an inefficient road network.”
Mr Johns said the VFF also wanted to encourage councils to reassess B-double access on roads within their jurisdictions.
In September Regional Roads Victoria announced a $45 million improvement works package for western Victoria.
It included improvement works for eight sites along the Western Highway – including areas around Horsham, Dimboola and Gerang Gerung – totalling about six kilometres all up.
Furthermore, 6.7 kilometres of the Wimmera Highway were to receive about $4.9 million worth of repairs and rehabilitation, specifically focused around the Rupanyup, Marnoo and St Arnaud areas.
The office of Roads Minister Jaala Pulford has been contacted for comment.