Ballarat drivers will benefit from a fast-tracked spending spree on roads across the district.
The federal and state governments have partnered to deliver millions of dollars in road upgrade funding, targeting projects big and small across the state.
In Ballarat, the Western Freeway will be upgraded in two places - $10 million has been allocated for the stretch between Dowling Road in Miners Rest to Woodmans Hill, and another $5 million for "realignment at Pykes Creek".
New safety barriers will be installed on the Western Freeway between Woodmans Hill and Miners Rest, which will reduce the risk of head-on and run-off-road crashes.
This is on top of the barriers which have already been installed and are currently extending on the Western Freeway between Melbourne and Ballarat. Authorities will keep the community informed closer to the start of construction.
The Western Freeway at Pykes Creek will be upgraded to improve safety and efficiency on this key corridor - which is used by around 20,000 vehicles every day.
These works will include realigning the Ballarat-bound lane of the Western Freeway to make it make it more suitable for the 110km/h speed limit, installation of roadside flexible safety barriers and road widening.
The $5 million upgrade funded by the Victorian and Australian governments is likely to begin in March 2021
"Local traffic calming" will be installed at Wendouree station, at a cost of $1.3 million - this will help to improve pedestrian connections to the station in line with the Wendouree Station Precinct Master Plan, to ensure it caters for the significant growth expected in Ballarat's western growth area.
Patronage at Wendouree Station has increased significantly since reopening in 2009 and will continue to grow following the completion of the Ballarat Line Upgrade.
This is in addition to the money already allocated for a redesign of the Gillies Street and Gregory Street West intersection, where traffic lights will be installed.
The Midland Highway will also be upgraded at Clyde Road near Bannockburn with a new roundabout - this intersection caters to 8600 vehicles per day, and two people have tragically lost their lives as the result of crashes at this intersection, while two others have suffered serious injuries in the five-year period between 2015 and 2019.
Another $3 million has been allocated for a new roundabout to make it easier and safer to travel through the intersection of the Glenelg Highway and Eurambeen-Streatham Road in Streatham, which serves as a heavy vehicle bypass route (via Western Freeway) to avoid travelling through Ballarat and other towns east of this location.
There have been four recorded crashes in the five years between mid-2014 and mid-2019. These crashes included one fatality, one serious injury and two minor injury crashes.
Installing a roundabout will reduce the number of conflict points at the intersection and the reduce speed of the vehicles. This will result in a lower number and severity of crashes.
The federal government's media release also states "30 high-speed, high-risk rural intersections" will receive safety upgrades, as well as pedestrian crossings at an unspecified number of schools.
Further afield, more money has been allocated to upgrade the Bendigo and Echuca rail lines, and the Princes Highway will be fully duplicated between Traralgon and Sale, more than a decade after work began, and months after the project ground to a halt with two sections left unfinished.
Regional Roads Victoria's western regional director Michael Bailey said in a statement the projects will boost jobs and improve safety.
"The works are targeting some of the region's busiest and most important freight and transport routes, as well as improving connections for pedestrians, cyclists and people using public transport," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement the "shovel-ready" projects would help Victoria lift its economy during the coronavirus recovery.
The Victorian Government will also provide $179.8 million towards the two key projects - the rail upgrade and Princes Highway completion - and $25.7 million for targeted road safety works.
City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor said all funding to improve infrastructure in Ballarat is welcome, particularly works that address safety and accessibility.
"We are still waiting on full details of how the funding will be spent. All improvements are welcome, this expenditure will have a positive flow through affect for our local economy," he said, adding council will continue to seek further funding for key infrastructure projects.
"Ballarat's highest priority in terms of transport infrastructure is still delivery of the Ballarat Link Road - duplication of Stage 1 and delivery of Stage 2.
"This project is the key to connecting Ballarat's biggest growth area with the rest of the city and the region in a safe and efficient manner. All up it's a $100 million project - which can be delivered in stages - creating hundreds of local jobs during construction and bringing lasting benefits in terms of improved travel times, reduced congestion and pollution in the CBD and a significant increase in road safety".
Federal Ballarat MP Catherine King said in a statement she looked forward to seeing safer roads throughout the community.
"Anyone who has driven the roads around Ballarat knows that there are countless projects that could be funded to improve road safety, whether that be fixing potholes, installing crash barriers or better managing traffic," she said.
"Throughout this crisis Labor has been consistently calling on the Morrison Government to invest in roads, rail and other infrastructure to deliver jobs to our local communities and help get our economy back on track.
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"Just last week the Grattan Institute added its voice to those highlighting the importance of infrastructure investment to get us through this crisis. The Government needs to do more to bring forward shovel ready projects and deliver road upgrades than has been announced today.
"If they need any ideas on where to invest next, I am sure there are plenty of motorists across Ballarat and regional Victoria who would be more than happy to offer some suggestions."
The full list of projects selected is available online.
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