By Colin MacGillivray
MEMBER for McEwen Rob Mitchell has renewed a call for the Federal Government to ‘come clean’ about the state of the Hume Freeway diamond interchange at Wallan’s Watson Street amid continued inaction.
Mr Mitchell said the government had remained silent on the status of the project after announcing $50 million to complete it in August last year.
Mr Mitchell said the installation of two south-facing freeway exit and entry ramps was long overdue.
“This is a glaring example of the Morrison government being all about the announcement and simply failing to deliver,” he said.
“This is about people’s safety and, now that the roads are back to normal, the amount of time wasted sitting in traffic.
“This is becoming ridiculous. How much longer can this government promise infrastructure and fail to put a shovel in the ground?”
The diamond interchange project is also contingent on State Government works, which include the construction of a new bridge next to the existing Watson Street bridge, two roundabouts and the duplication of some sections of Watson Street.
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the Department of Transport had undertaken a detailed assessment of the existing Watson Street bridge, including geotechnical investigation of the existing foundations and below-ground conditions, to determine the best course of action.
“We are now in the process of finalising designs for the planned Hume Freeway-Watson Street interchange at Wallan following the necessary detailed inspections of the existing bridge and infrastructure,” she said.
“Further environmental and cultural heritage assessments will need to be undertaken before any essential early works, such as service relocations, can occur.”
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green said the State Government would keep the community informed of any significant developments as the project progressed.
“We are planning for the future needs of the rapidly growing Wallan community, and the interchange with Watson Street and the Hume Freeway is a significant upgrade,” she said.
Mr Mitchell said the Federal Government was ultimately responsible for the project.
He said requests for updates on the status of the project with the office of the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development – formerly Michael McCormack, who visited the site in early 2020, and now Barnaby Joyce – had only received a reply that the project was ‘in planning.’
“The interchange is desperately needed now. Peak hour traffic is banking up on the Hume Freeway from the current Wallan exit, exposing motorists to danger as they sit waiting and cars and trucks fly by them at 110km per hour. It is a serious accident waiting to happen,” Mr Mitchell said.
“We need answers and I call on the [Federal] Government to move forward with this project without delay.”