Highway duplication named priority

Completion of Princes Highway East’s duplication between Traralgon and Sale has been named a State Government priority.

The multi-million dollar project, already underway, has been identified in the State Government’s 2012 Priority Infrastructure submission to Infrastructure Australia.

State and federal governments first committed funding to the duplication project in 2007 through the Nation Building Program (2008/09 to 2013/14).

An initial Traralgon East section of the upgrade opened late in 2010, while an Environmental Effects Statement assessment is still pending for the Traralgon East to Kilmany section and the Wurruk to Sale section is slated for completion later this year, according to VicRoads.

This month Premier Ted Baillieu said continuation of the corridor upgrade was one of a list of Victorian priority infrastructure projects with the “potential to address Victoria’s infrastructure backlog, to get Victoria moving again, to generate jobs and to deliver economic growth and prosperity for Victoria”.

While Mr Baillieu said it was “absolutely essential to deliver these visionary projects”, it is understood funding has already been set aside to ensure the freeway duplication project’s completion.

A State Government source said a 12 to 18-month delay of construction of the project – believed to be as a result of the pending EES – had seen the freeway duplication selected for deferral when the Federal Government “re-profiled” a number of infrastructure projects across Australia as part of the Queensland flood levy. 

Since then, however, the “re-profiled” $60 million, the remainder of an overall $140 million Federal Government commitment to the project, has been shifted to future Nation Building Agreement allocations; $40 million in 2014/15 and $20 million in 2015/16.

The State Government has committed $35 million to the duplication.

It is understood the purpose of including the project in the 2012 Priority Infrastructure submission is an attempt to safeguard the funds and ensure the Federal Government maintains its existing commitment.

The project, however, remains subject to delay in one section while an EES assessment is undertaken, documenting the “likely environmental effects of the proposed highway duplication between Stammers Road, Traralgon East and Templeton Road, Kilmany,” according to VicRoads.

“This section of the proposed duplication has potential significant impacts on native vegetation and flora and fauna species of state and national significance,” VicRoads said.