The Coalition would help rehabilitate council-maintained roads such as Avenel’s Upton Rd by reviving the $160million country roads and bridges program
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said about $1million in grants would be provided to Victoria’s 40 rural shires, including Mitchell and Strathbogie, each year for four years if the Coalition is elected in November’s state vote.
Fowles Wine chief executive officer Matt Fowles said while he was glad Strathbogie Shire Council successfully pushed for the speed limit on Upton Rd to be cut from 100km/h to 80km/h, the condition of the road remained a daily concern for him and his family.
‘‘We would have hundreds of people a year servicing vineyards, cherry farms and chook yards up here, and the road is just not right for that level of traffic,’’ Mr Fowles said.
‘‘Not to mention the heavy trucks that come in and out of farms, with livestock, feed, and other haulage,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s spots on the road where there are trees within 1m of the road, so if you’re passing a big truck, you have to actually stop and let them pull off.
‘‘I guess through the lens of a father with kids on the school bus, you just notice this stuff so much — it’s pretty shocking when you actually dig into the detail and live it every day.
‘‘It frightens me every day, so I make my little girls sit at the back of the bus with a seat belt, because it’s just nuts.’’
Mitchell Shire mayor Rhonda Sanderson said council maintained a 1383km network of sealed (668km) and unsealed (715km) roads.
‘‘The shire welcomed the Coalition commitment to reinstate the country roads and bridges program and deliver $4million to local roads in our municipality if elected,’’ Cr Sanderson said.
‘‘The program ceased in 2015 and the loss of these funds has had an enormous impact on our ability to keep up with the maintenance of our ageing road infrastructure.’’
Strathbogie Shire mayor Amanda McClaren agreed and said her council manages more than 2000km of roads — of which 1500km are gravel roads.
There is also more than 500 bridges and major culverts.
‘‘We are a small rural shire with approximately 7000 ratepayers carrying the cost burden of maintaining an enormous number of assets,’’ Cr Sanderson said.
‘‘Council unsuccessfully applied for black spot funding in 2016 and for the local roads to market funding in 2017 for the upgrade of Upton Rd,’’ Cr McClaren said.
‘‘It has been identified by us as a strategic freight route and its situation in Avenel is typical of the challenges country councils have to face.’’
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the Nationals have a poor track record when it comes funding for roads.
‘‘When in government the Nationals hid in a corner when the Liberal Minister slashed the road maintenance budget by more than half and cut 450 VicRoads jobs,’’ Ms Symes said.
‘‘I continue to work with country councils and support their priority projects.’’