The City of Ballarat is vying for federal funding for major road-building projects - including stage two of the Link Road - to help kickstart a local economy under huge strain due to COVID-19.
A council spokesperson confirmed on Friday that four applications had been put in for a slice of the $100 billion infrastructure fund promised by the Coalition ahead of last year's general election.
Earlier this month, the deputy prime minister Michael McCormack wrote to councils around the country urging them to apply for shovel-ready projects as a way of strengthening the economy.
With municipalities everywhere facing similar economic pressures, competition for the funding is likely to be fierce and most likely oversubscribed.
As well as the road building, Ballarat Mayor Cr Ben Taylor said he hoped council could fast-track other works - including the rejuvenation of Bakery Hill and various recreation grounds - to bring much needed jobs and money into the city.
The road project funding is being sought from the Australian Government Land Transport Infrastructure Projects program for the following projects: Gillies Road between the Western Highway and Creswick Road, Dowling Road between Remembrance Drive and the Sunraysia Highway, an upgrade to Cherry Flat Road between Bells Road and the Midland Highway, and the Ballarat Link Road Stage 2A between Remembrance Drive and Carngham Road.
For Cr Ben Taylor, funding for the second stage of the Link Road would be the biggest boost for the economy and creating jobs.
"It [would] probably give us the best bang for buck," he said. "Construction goes a long way. A lot of people locally would be employed through this - we saw that for the first [Stage 1] link road, where most of the contractors were local."
"It means that money stays here and flows on to restaurants and retail. It's a big multiplier."
Stage 1B of the link road stretching from the Western Freeway to Remembrance Drive was finished in autumn 2018, with council documents saying $15m of a $20m spend went locally.
The ultimate aim of the Western link road, one of the city's biggest long-term infrastructure projects, is to have a four-lane carriageway looping half way round the city from the Western Freeway to Glenelg Highway. A single lane carriageway linking the Glenelg Highway to the Midland Highway is also planned, along with numerous intersection upgrades.
It is designed as an arterial road link connecting the rapidly expanding residential area in Ballarat west, as well as to ease traffic on existing roads and reducing truck volumes in the CBD by up to 20 per cent.
Besides road projects, Cr Taylor said he hoped funding would become available for the All-Waste Interchange, the long talked about facility at BWEZ, which would be a hub for both waste and recycling collection. Cr Taylor said he hoped funding would be available through the state's new circular economy policy, released earlier this year.
Watch video of Stage one of the Western Link Road
With state government assistance, he said council would be able to bring forward planned works in Bakery Hill - now the focus of a major rejuvenation project.
Works at Power Park in Sebastopol, as well as Alfredton Recreation Reserve and a recreational reserve at Miners Rest were also ready to begin as soon as funding could be found, the City of Ballarat said.
Beyond the financial remit of the City Ballarat, Cr Taylor also said council had an advocacy role to play for other big economy-boosting projects - including redevelopment at Ballarat Health Services and the Ballarat major events and sporting precinct.
The Courier asked whether Ballarat businesses could expect any further relief on rates.
Cr Taylor responded by citing the financial shortfall council now faces due to the COVID-19 - estimated at more than $15million across the financial year - partly as a result of lost income due to widespread service closures.
However, he said individuals and companies could apply for hardship relief and that council was currently considering a revised budget options to help businesses.
"We're going through the budget at the moment," he said. "Council has got to make some tough decisions."
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