Interchange still on agenda

By Jackson Russell

Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell has renewed calls for the Federal Government to fund the much-needed Hume Freeway-Watson Street diamond interchange in Wallan.

While $50 million of funding earmarked for the Hume Freeway and M80 Ring Road more than a year ago, the project is yet to start and little of those upgrades will be made in Mitchell Shire.

The upgrade project is from south of Lithgow Street, Beveridge.

Mr Mitchell said the upgrades should extend to Wallan.

He met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack last week to discuss the Watson Street diamond interchange.

“I met with the Deputy Prime Minister to push the case that this money is not earmarked for the seat of McEwen, which they announced in February and re-announced later in the year, the vast majority of it is in other electorates,” he said.

”My job is to keep advocating and that’s what I’ll do. We’ll have more discussions with him but as we continue to see, the big concern is if they still have money to fund these projects.”

Mr Mitchell said Mr McCormack saw first-hand the difference the interchange will make during a visit to Wallan following the train derailment.

“I showed him when he was in town and now he knows first-hand what it looks like which makes a big difference,” he said.

“We’re hoping he’ll actually see sense in delivering some much needed infrastructure in our community.”

A spokesperson for Mr McCormack said the Federal Government hadn’t considered the Watson Street diamond interchange.

“There has not been any formal consideration by the Australian Government of the Watson Street diamond interchange in Wallan,” the spokesperson said.

“However, the Australian Government would be pleased to consider a project scope proposal from the Victorian Government capturing this project.”

The spokesperson said the Federal Government was continuing to work with the State Government to progress the $50 million commitment to the Hume Freeway upgrade to Lithgow Street.

“Discussions are continuing between the Australian and Victorian governments to settle the scope of the project,” the spokesperson said.

“Upgrades on this section of the freeway are expected to improve travel times and freight efficiency and support future traffic demand on this important corridor for motorists travelling to and from Melbourne to both urban and peri-urban areas, and further afield.”