State road funding in the gutter

CLAIMS the State Government has “shortchanged” Latrobe City have tainted today’s funding announcement of $900,000 towards the repair of severely deteriorated roads in our region.

As part of the government’s $45 million road pavement ‘repair and restore’ package announced last month, Moe-Glengarry Road and Traralgon-Balook Road have secured $650,000 and $302,000 respectively.

Despite State Member for Morwell Russell Northe recognising Gippsland roads were deteriorating quicker than “predicted” due to increased rain events, the funding boost, which bought the Road Asset Management budget to $423.9 million, was still less than the 2010 budget of about $480 million.

However, Mr Northe said the current road issues had existed under the former Labor State Government.

“After a number of flood events and two years of wetter than normal weather, the roads in Gippsland are deteriorating at a more significant rate than predicted,” he said.

“These improvements will not only create a smoother, safer road for motorists, they will also preserve the longevity of the road and reduce the maintenance it requires in future.”

But the funding, which aims to repair and reconstruct sections of the two significantly deteriorated roads, has been slammed by State Member for Eastern Victoria Region Matt Viney who claimed the government’s road funding was little more than “smoke and mirrors”.

“Under Mr Northe’s watch, funding for road maintenance has been cut, despite his own admission that roads in Latrobe ‘definitely needed’ extra funding,” Mr Viney said.

“The Coalition wants the community to be thankful (this announcement) makes the cut just a little bit smaller.”

Today’s announcement follows The Express’ report last week VicRoads was closing its Road Safety and Network Access division and cutting 450 jobs from the department state wide.