Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road to be considered for future funding

Mr PURCELL (Western Victoria) (12:33:48) — My question is to Minister Pulford representing the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. By far the most reported road safety problem in Western Victoria Region that is ever reported to me is the condition of Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road, particularly the section between Ettrick and Broadwater. This stretch of road is one of the main thoroughfares between Portland and Melbourne, and as well as carrying a great number of tourists and locals it also carries the bulk of heavy timber trucks and much freight to and from the port. Every year there are significant works undertaken on this road to improve the shoulders, but the shoulders continue to fall into bad repair when the next truck comes along because the gravel just disappears. Therefore my question to the minister is: Minister, will you assist economic development, road logistics and road safety once and for all by widening this road and sealing the shoulders?

Ms PULFORD (Minister for Agriculture) (12:34:56) — I thank Mr Purcell for his question and his interest in road maintenance and repair and road safety in south-western Victoria. I note also Ms Tierney and her long advocacy for this as well as that of members in this place who have perhaps spent more time on the roads of the south-west than others of us.

Certainly these roads and these communities are ones that I am also familiar with. I am advised that crews commenced filling in and grading shoulders on narrow sections of Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road earlier this week, and perhaps that is what is prompting Mr Purcell's question. This follows on from works that were completed on other sections of the first 17 kilometres from Woolsthorpe a couple of months ago.

I am told that VicRoads is currently working on selected narrow sections between the 33 and 58-kilometre chainages. As Mr Purcell and members would perhaps be aware, the government had committed $40 million towards upgrading roads in the south-west, in particular 10 priority narrow roads. That prioritisation has occurred, and that funding package will be allocated to the widening of Myamyn-MacArthur Road, Ayresford Road, Timboon-Nullawarre Road, Foxhow Road, Skipton Road, Inverleigh-Winchelsea Road, Warrnambool-Caramut Road, Coleraine-Edenhope Road, Terang-Mortlake Road and Casterton-Apsley Road.

Of course that list does not include Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road. These top 10 roads were selected on the basis of their crash history, their car and truck volumes and other considerations like whether or not the road includes use as a school bus route. Although Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road was not included in this immediate works program, I am told that VicRoads is currently conducting preplanning and design work for the road so that it can be considered for future funding.