Funding for more passing lanes on the Princes Highway between Colac and the South Australian border is on the budget agenda following strong advocacy from Member for Western Victoria James Purcell.
Western District MP James Purcell has been actively campaigning for an increase in passing lanes along the busy stretch of road, running an ongoing campaign to have the road declared a Road of National Significance and upgraded to 50 passing lanes. Yesterday it was announced a business case would be undertaken.
"The announcement that this business case is being prepared is a real win for the south-west and I will be working hard to make sure there is funding in the 2018/19 budget in May," says Mr Purcell.
Over the past 18 months Mr Purcell has met with the Treasurer and Roads Minister regarding the upgrade and raised the need for improved safety and road upgrades on the Princes Highway west in parliament.
"This is something I am determined to see improved in the south-west. I'm a squeaking wheel on a bumpy road," he joked.
"In 2014 RACV admitted $75 million was needed to bring the road up to scratch, with a detailed survey of the region's main link revealed an estimate 300 people would be involved in either fatal or serious injury accidents over the next two decades if no funds were committed."
Mr Purcell said upgrading it to a Road of National Importance, which would secure Commonwealth funding for upgrades, was also an important step.
"Upgrading this section of road to include 50 passing lanes, just five per year over 10 years, will cost the state $10 million annually, with the Commonwealth also committing $10 million annually," says Mr Purcell.
Princes Highway west is a major corridor serving 34 towns and 350,000 people. Its condition is so dangerous that the government’s own Princes Highway West A1 Corridor Strategy reveals that the road accident rate is greater than anywhere else in the state.
"It's an investment in our region, which will have far reaching benefits for industry, tourism and road safety."
Mr Purcell is calling for public support for the 50 Passing Lanes campaign and invites community members to sign an online petition at www.50passinglanes.com.au