By Colin MacGillivray
The State Government has defended its record on regional roads after a survey organised by the Liberal-National coalition named Melbourne-Lancefield Road among the worst in Victoria.
The opposition launched the ‘Victoria’s Worst Road’ campaign earlier this year, encouraging people to vote for what they believed to be the worst road in the state in an online poll.
The results, released late last month, named Melbourne-Lancefield Road as the third worst in Victoria, trailing only the Great Alpine Road and various locations on the Princes Highway.
The roads eligible were government-managed roads, not shire council roads.
Shadow Roads Minister Danny O’Brien announced the results of the poll alongside Member for Euroa Steph Ryan and Nationals candidate for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland.
Mr O’Brien described the state of regional roads as ‘unacceptable’.
“There are some incredibly dangerous stretches of the Melbourne-Lancefield Road that need urgent attention,” he said.
“Country roads like this are plagued by rough surface signs, a symptom of neglect and a failure to take meaningful action.
“I will be raising the state of this road directly with the Roads Minister and requesting urgent action to upgrade the crumbling shoulders that pose a real hazard to road users.”
Ms Cleeland said roads in Euroa were ‘an embarrassment’, spruiking the opposition’s commitment to allocate 25 per cent of its infrastructure budget to regional areas.
“The deterioration of roads is top of mind for locals who feel the shocking neglect of our region’s roads is symptomatic of a government with extreme disdain for regional Victorians,” she said.
“The Nationals are in touch with what our communities need and have a positive plan to invest in our roads network.
“We will bring back the Country Roads and Bridges Program to support councils to fix dangerous roads and reverse the consecutive cuts made to the roads budget.”
A government spokesperson hit back at the claims by Mr O’Brien and Ms Cleeland, saying the government had rebuilt or resurfaced more than 10,000 kilometres of regional roads and invested $34 billion across the state’s road network since 2014.
They said the government had undertaken ‘significant work’ to reduce road trauma along Melbourne-Lancefield Road.
The spokesperson said road crews were currently rebuilding a four-kilometre section of Melbourne-Lancefield Road between Bolinda Creek Bridge and Mullallys Road as part of a regional road maintenance blitz, while a section between Lancefield and Monegeetta was upgraded with safety barriers, new overtaking lanes, rumble strips and wider road shoulder in 2020.
They said the State Government had invested $1,847,719 in road rehabilitation and repair works along Melbourne-Lancefield Road, not including the current rebuilding project between Bolinda Creek Bridge and Mullalys Road, since 2018.
“We are investing $780 million toward maintaining and renewing Victoria’s arterial road network this financial year,” the spokesperson said.
“Over the past four years we have averaged $813 million per year on road maintenance compared to an average of $493 million per year when the Coalition were last in office.
“Since 2014 we’ve rebuilt or resurfaced more than 10,400 kilometres of regional roads to ensure their quality and safety. We have another 1,000 projects being delivered this maintenance season.”