By Jackson Russell –
Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell says the Watson Street-Hume Freeway diamond interchange should be at the top of the list for Federal Government funding to aid in the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Mitchell’s comments come after last week state Member for Euroa Steph Ryan called for the State Government to nominate the Kilmore Bypass as a shovel-ready project to assist with economic recovery.
The Federal MP said while he would like to see the Kilmore Bypass built, his first priority was the Watson Street interchange.
“The interchange is ready to go, the Victorian Government and VicRoads have done all the work and it should start as it’s the biggest traffic impediment in the southern half of the shire,” he said.
“The Kilmore Bypass is a State Government road and they’ve put $20 million into land acquisition.
“The Liberals and Nationals deceived the community about building this, we’ve seen the Andrews Government pick up the slack and they’re working through it and going through its processes.
“My role is to push for as much federal funding for projects in my electorate as I can. The vast majority of MPs are out there working hard trying to get their community through a pandemic.
“The priority is to get the Wallan interchange sorted. You get this road blocked, there’s no way in or out, this is the main corridor up and it needs to be done properly.”
The Review understands that Federal Government body Infrastructure Australia is liaising with Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet regarding upgrades to the Hume Freeway between the Northern Highway at Wallan and O’Herns Road, Epping.
Submissions to Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List detail the current congestion costs to be estimated at between $250 million and $300 million each year.
Documents also suggest additional lanes on the Hume Freeway and on and off ramps need to be built at Watson Street and Camerons Lane Beveridge within the next five years due to substantial growth in the area.
Mr Mitchell also listed the Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct and stage two of Nexus Primary Health’s Wallan super clinic as projects that are shovel-ready.
“The Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct has received money from the State Government and Macedon Ranges Shire Council but has so far been flatly refused by this government,” he said.
A State Government spokeswoman said work on the Kilmore Bypass was moving ahead, with land acquisition and planning approvals.
Planning investigations and the preparation of an environment effect statement have been completed with further investigations carried out to ensure minimal impact on Kilmore Wastewater Management Facility.
Meanwhile, Regional Roads Victoria is seeking planning approvals between the Northern Highway and south of Willowmavin Road.
A further planning process will occur for the section of the bypass north of Willowmavin Road, avoiding impact on Kilmore Wastewater Management Facility.
A government spokeswoman said the government knew how important the project was to the Kilmore community.
“Projects of this scale and nature take time and Regional Roads Victoria is currently progressing final planning approvals for the western option north of Willowmavin Road and investigations into the Watson Street interchange,” the spokeswoman said.