Expressions of Interest have been called for to duplicate the Western Highway from Buangor to Ararat, as work continues on the $662.3 million upgrade between Ballarat and Stawell.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the Western Highway was one of Victoria’s busiest rural highways and most significant interstate freight routes.
“The Western Highway is a vital interstate freight link that supports communities dependent on farming, grain production, regional tourism and a range of manufacturing and service activities,” Mr Chester said.
“The duplication from Buangor to Ararat will improve safety by adding another 12.5 kilometres of lanes to the 34 kilometres of highway already duplicated. We know that building better roads not only improves lives and productivity, but it can also save lives.
“Expressions of Interest will be open until Wednesday 11 May before tenderers are shortlisted in June. Tenderers will then be invited to submit a Request for Tender, with the successful contractor expected to be appointed in October when detailed design work will begin.”
Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan said the highway between Ballarat and Stawell was being upgraded to provide a safer and more efficient four-lane duplicated route.
“Work is almost finished on the duplication between Beaufort and Buangor, and the Buangor Bypass, and we are pleased that work will now be starting on this vital link to Ararat,” he said.
“This duplication between Ballarat and Ararat is what many in the community have been asking for and the Victorian Government is pleased to have a role in delivering this much-needed duplication.”
Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the duplication would help address the high number of crashes on the Western Highway.
“In the five years to February 2016, there were 87 crashes on the Western Highway between Ballarat and Stawell, involving nine fatalities and 57 serious injuries. Significantly, 27 of those crashes involved the driver crossing over the centre line into oncoming traffic,” Mr Tehan said.
“Twenty four of those crashes occurred between Buangor and Ararat – including one fatality and 24 serious injuries—of which 10 involved drivers crossing the centre line.
“In addition to separating the traffic lanes, highway safety will be improved with sealed road shoulders, safety barriers, protected turning lanes, intersection improvements, and service lanes for local access at some locations.”
State Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford said the Victorian Government recognised the important role roads played in linking regional communities and were essential to Victoria’s economic and social development.
“Regional communities want safe, reliable travel and we’re working to provide this,” she said.
“This upgrade will boost safety for the 6500 drivers who use the Western Highway west of Ballarat every day.”
Construction from Buangor to Ararat is expected to start in early 2017 and will take about two years to complete. Some pre-construction work, including fence building, is expected to start in the next few months.
The Australian Government has committed $501.3 million and the Victorian Government $161 million to duplicate the Western Highway from Ballarat and Stawell.