In a revival of the Country Roads Board (CRB) Premier Daniel Andrews today announced the Victorian Government will create Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) – a new division of VicRoads – based in Ballarat.
$941 million of funding will be announced by Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan in next weeks’ state budget.
“As someone who grew up in country Victoria, I know how important safe and reliable roads are for regional communities,” Andrews said.
Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) will be led by a Chief Regional Roads Officer with staff in regional centres throughout Victoria.
RRV will oversee a $333 million boost to road maintenance, with more than 1,000 kilometres of roads to be repaired, resurfaced or rebuilt.
A $100 million Fixing Country Roads fund is proposed providing grants to rural and regional councils to fix local roads.
“We’re giving country Victorians safer and more reliable roads – since coming to office we’ve doubled spending on road maintenance and we’re fixing hundreds of regional roads across the state,” Donnellan said.
There’s also $229 million with new overtaking lanes, rumble strips and intersection upgrades which the government claims will save lives.
Also included is:
- $98 million for planning and pre-construction of new bypasses on the Western Highway at Beaufort and Ararat
- $40 million to upgrade the Princes Highway West between Colac and the South Australian border.
- Upgrades to the Calder Highway, Hamilton Highway and the Kiewa Valley Highway aimed at improved safety and travel times
- Intersection upgrades to Ballarat’s Sturt Street; and
- A new roundabout on the Shepparton Alternate Route
“This ground-breaking investment will upgrade regional roads right across the state – and for the first time give our regional road network the direct attention it deserves,” Andrews said.
Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure David Hodgett said the announcement by Andrews follows a Liberal National announcement last week ” … we’d fully restore the $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program … axed by Daniel Andrews.
“It takes true arrogance to take money from country roads riddled with potholes and falling apart and then spending it in your own metropolitan backyard,” Hodgett said.
In 2015, Andrews cut the $160 million Country Roads and Bridges program as country roads fell into dangerous disrepair with a 2017 audit office report finding about 10 per cent of Victoria’s regional roads currently rated “very poor” and 30 per cent “poor”.
The Auditor-General stated current regional road conditions “present[ed] a growing risk to public safety and increase[d] road user costs”.
“Today’s announcement by Labor short changes regional Victorians by $60 million of country roads funding,” Hodgett said
If elected this November the coalition propose investing $1 billion in regional transport infrastructure to decentralise Victoria’s population and economy.
“Country roads have been falling apart for three years because Daniel Andrews decided the cash would be better spent fixing roads around his metropolitan electorate of Mulgrave,” Hodgett said.
Greens transport spokesperson Sam Hibbins stated “creating a new division within VicRoads will have little effect unless it is accompanied by increased staffing levels and not just re-badging work already undertaken.
“Regional Roads Victoria should ensure they have transparent decision making processes that involves local communities so problems with country roads are not ignored.
“Regional transport will continue to be neglected in the absence of a long term integrated transport plan for Victoria,” Hibbins said.