By Jackson Russell
Wallan’s much-needed Hume Freeway diamond interchange has been green-lit after the Federal Government announced it will fully fund $50 million for the long-awaited project.
The upgrade will create south-facing ramps on and off the Hume Freeway at Watson Street, complementing the existing north-facing ramps.
The new ramps will allow direct freeway access and reduce traffic through the centre of Wallan for motorists travelling to and from Melbourne.
Currently, access to and from the Hume Freeway from Wallan affects traffic flow along the Northern Highway and creates congestion issues on Wallan’s main street and the freeway off-ramp.
The funding will come from the government’s Urban Congestion Fund.
Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the upgrade would make a real difference to motorists north of Melbourne.
“Motorists across Wallan will have a shorter, direct route between the Hume Freeway and the entire area,” he said.
“It means direct access to new precincts including planned community health centres and upgraded ambulance services.
“It will also significantly improve safety for locals getting onto the freeway.”
Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the project would mean families across the area would get home safer and sooner.
“Residents should expect to see a reduction in traffic congestion around the Hume Freeway for northbound vehicles exiting the freeway in peak travel times,” he said.
“This investment is an example of the Australian Government’s commitment to ensuring local residents will be able to get home sooner and safer on Melbourne’s road network, while delivering infrastructure that is needed to meet future population and economic growth needs in Melbourne’s north.”
Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said the project would improve livability for residents of the shire’s south.
“We thank Mr Tudge and the efforts of Mr Drum in securing this vital funding. It is a recognition of Victoria’s fastest growing shire and the importance of connectivity for those living in Wallan,” he said.
“We’d also like to thank the Victorian Government for their assistance in the planning which allowed this project to be funded.
“This project will improve liveability for our residents to the south and reduce travel times and congestion for all who use the freeway. Less time travelling means more time commuters can spend with their families and loved ones.”
Cr Lowe said council had been ‘dogged’ in its advocacy for improved transport networks.
“The improvement of amenity and liveability of towns such as Beveridge, Wallan and Kilmore as well as our other emerging communities is one of the key reasons people want to call Mitchell Shire home,” he said.
“This announcement is a real economic boost to the region and will assist greatly in our recovery efforts as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is fantastic news that will be welcomed across the shire.”
Federal Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said he was delighted the upgrade was finally happening after more than a decade of campaigning for the project.
“I’ve written countless letters to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister; I’ve spoken in Parliament about it many times, and I’ve had multiple meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister, including one on-site to show him first-hand the need for the project,” he said.
Mr Mitchell said the ramps would make an ‘enormous’ difference to motorists.
“Commuters who travel south for work daily will particularly benefit from easier access on to the freeway, as well as safer exit onto the Northern by reducing those hair-raising bottlenecks we face when heading northbound into Wallan and onto Kilmore,” he said.
“As a local I know there’s nothing more frightening than being stuck at a standstill on the freeway, while cars and trucks continuing up the freeway whizz past at 110 kilometres an hour.”