Works have commenced this week on the $3.3 million road safety upgrade of the Princes Highway between Orbost and Cann River, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull announced today.
Mr Bull said the safety upgrade is part of a larger $36 million program to reduce the crash rate on the highway from Longwarry through to the New South Wales border.
“The 74-kilometre section of the Princes Highway between Orbost and Cann River can be dangerous for road users due to mountainous terrain and heavily vegetated roadside.
“The crash history shows a distinct pattern of vehicles leaving the road on curves.
“Figures show there have been 46 crashes on this particular section of the highway in the last five years. Forty of these were run-off-road crashes and five resulted in fatalities.
“The aim of this project is to make the Princes Highway safer, by reducing the likelihood and severity of run-off-road crashes,” he said.
Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, said the beginning of works was an important step forward in improving safety conditions on the road but he would continue to seek the inclusion of the highway in the Federal Government’s national network.
“Despite the highway having one of the highest accident and fatality rates in Victoria, it is currently ineligible to receive Commonwealth funding,” Mr Chester said.
“Research clearly indicates that investing money on roads is critical to reducing the road toll.
“In addition to supporting these upgrades I am working with Tim to form a working group which will investigate other safety issues on the road and work in a whole of government approach to address them.
“Having raised the importance of including the highway on the national network on a number of occasions in Parliament, I also recently accepted an offer from the Federal Transport Minister to discuss the long-term future of the road.”
Mr Bull said, the upgrade includes a number of road safety treatments, including installation of safety barriers, removal of trees, upgrade of guideposts, extra curve warning signs and more reflective pavement markers.
“The additional signage, guideposts and pavement markers will assist drivers in negotiating the road, especially in wet and dark conditions.”
“Approximately nine kilometres of wire rope safety barrier and three kilometres of guard fence will be installed to protect motorists from roadside hazards such as trees or steep drop-offs.”
"In the recent storm event in this area, we saw first-hand the danger presented by falling trees across the road and to see work being done in this area is welcomed.
“The Princes Highway east of Orbost has been neglected for some time and it is important standards are improved to match the increasing use of this road.
“I urge all motorists to be aware there will be some delays and changed traffic conditions at times while works are underway and to be patient and allow slightly longer for travelling times in this area," said Mr Bull.
“I would like to thank motorists in advance for their patience while these works are carried out. They are vital improvements that will ultimately make the road safer for everyone.”
The works are expected to take around six months to complete.