Western District MP James Purcell says today's announcement of a $941 million investment to setup Regional Roads Victoria and upgrade key roads in country Victoria is a great victory for those who have campaigned for these improvements.
The Labor Government has allocated funding in the 2018/19 budget for a Ballarat-based division of VicRoads, which will oversee a $333 million boost to regional road maintenance, with more than 1000 kilometres of roads to be repaired across the state.
"We've also secured $40 million to upgrade the Princes Highway West between Colac and the South Australian border and I couldn't be more delighted," says Mr Purcell.
Mr Purcell has long campaigned the Government for a Country Roads Board, launching a parliamentary enquiry into VicRoads management of regional roads and calling for a separate group to oversee with a local perspective.
His November 2017 motion highlighted the need for equal funding and attention for country roads that could be achieved by splitting Vic Roads into regional and metropolitan bodies.
"The Regional Roads Victoria division is exactly what we asked for. It's based in a regional centre and will have staff throughout country Victoria who are able to identify and prioritise needs with the benefit of local knowledge and input.
Mr Purcell says people power has paid off once again, with the allocation of $40 million to upgrade the Princes Highway between Colac and the South Australian border.
In March 2017 Mr Purcell asked that the road be upgraded to a Road of National Importance, which would secure Commonwealth funding for upgrades, and pushed for the Victoria Government to commit funding to the project and increasing passing lanes along the highway.
"Our #50passinglanes campaign was very specific and attracted massive public support. We wanted 50 passing lanes along the Princes Highway between Colac and the South Australian border.
"I think a $40 million upgrade is close enough," he says.
Mr Purcell has repeatedly asked for funding and attention for Western Victorian roads. Public submissions on the worst roads in the state were used to compile a top 10 that was presented to the Minister for Roads and VicRoads in 2017.
"I look forward to presenting that list to the new chief at Regional Roads Victoria," says Mr Purcell.