Beaufort residents have welcomed Regional Roads Victoria's preferred route for an 11km bypass road that will take trucks and highway traffic out of the town's main street.
RRV chief regional roads officer Paul Northey announced that option C2 to the north of the town is the preferred alignment for the Beaufort Bypass after investigations found it would have the least impact on native vegetation, Aboriginal sites, historically significant areas and nearby properties.
"This is an important milestone for the Beaufort Bypass project - which will improve freight efficiency and safety along the Western Highway and make Beaufort a safer and more pleasant place to visit by removing heavy vehicle traffic from the main street of town," Mr Northey said.
Sarah Beaumont from the Beaufort Progress Association welcomed the decision as great news for the town.
"They have obviously chosen that route because they want to preserve some pretty important environmental parts of that country.
"For the town I think it's a wonderful opportunity because once the bypass happens it's a real golden opportunity for Beaufort to become a bit more of a tourist destination ... and a nicer place to live and invest without having those really big trucks thundering through town day and night."
The Beaufort Bypass is part of one of the state's biggest road projects, the Western Highway duplication between Ballarat and Stawell to which the federal government has committed $501 million and the state government $171 million.
About 6500 vehicles use the highway west of Ballarat every day, with 23,000 a day travelling between Melbourne and Ballarat.
Over the past five years there have been at least 92 crashes on the Western Highway between Ballarat and Stawell, including 10 fatalities and 50 serious injuries.
Pyrenees Shire chief executive Jim Nolan said council had not yet formed a view on the preferred bypass route, but had been focusing on measures to make Beaufort bypass-ready through they Pyrenees Futures Project.
"We appreciate that the RRV position has been informed by considerable technical work being carried out as part of the development of the Environment Effects Statement (EES)," he said.
"Council does not have access the technical work to properly understand or assess the relative impacts and benefits associated with the range of options. However we do appreciate the complexity and the extent of work necessary to prepare the EES documentation.
"Council and the community look forward to the release of the EES in due course at which time council will give thorough consideration to the bypass options."
Federal and state governments have committed more than $50 million to plan for the Beaufort bypass. In 2017 there were three options for a Beaufort Bypass presented to the community, which were narrowed to two options, with a variation of each, in 2018.
Over the coming weeks, RRV will talk to landholders, stakeholders and the community about the preferred option, explain the planning process and the next steps for the Environmental Effects Statement (EES).
Regional Roads Victoria will now refer the preferred alignment to Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne who will release the EES for public examination, review and comment.
The community can provide formal feedback about the statement, and the preferred route, which will be reviewed to determine if an independent advisory panel is required before making a final decision about the route.
Drop-in information sessions will be held in August where people can view the route, raise concerns and ask questions. The sessions will take place at Goldfields Recreation Reserve function room at 39 Park Rd, Beaufort, on Monday August 5 and Friday August 9 from 3pm to 7pm and from 10am to 2pm on Saturday August 10.
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