State's highway support

The State Government has pledged its support for continued funding of the Western Highway duplication project.

Northern Grampians Shire and Horsham City Council Mayors Kevin Erwin and David Grimble met with Minister for Roads Terry Mulder on Tuesday to discuss the project.

Cr Erwin, who is also the chair of the Western Highway Action Committee, said the meeting had been arranged before last week's double fatality.

"This meeting was organised some time ago and was in no way a reactive encounter. The tragedy of last week certainly drives home the importance of this project though," he said.

In the five year period ending June 2013, there were three run-off-road casualty crashes near the site of last week's crash at Black Range - one of those involving a B-Double truck.

"The meeting was incredibly productive and we're more confident now than ever before that the $500 million required to complete the duplication to Stawell will be forthcoming," Cr Erwin said.

"The Minister is acutely aware of the need for this project to proceed and has given us his full support to make it happen."

Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said Tuesday's meeting was a constructive discussion and that the state government continues to advocate for federal government support for the duplication through to Stawell.

"We advised the Committee that completion of the Western Highway duplication to Stawell is a priority for Victoria," he said.

"The Victorian Coalition Government has been advocating for additional Commonwealth support to complete the Western Highway duplication to Stawell since 2011 and we are continuing to advocate for support for this project with the Commonwealth.

"We also welcome signals from the Commonwealth that it is prepared to consider 80:20 funding arrangements with the States on nationally significant projects."

Mr Mulder said completion of the Western Highway duplication to Stawell will be completed in stages, subject to future funding.

"The Victorian Coalition Government is aware of the community's keenness to complete the duplication through to Stawell and in partnership with VicRoads will work to keep the community updated on the progress of future funding bids to allow this to happen," he said.

The project team will meet with Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss early in the New Year to secure the Federal Government's support for the project under the Infrastructure Investment Fund.

The National Projects component of the Fund targets road projects that will significantly improve the efficiency and safety of the national road network.

Cr Erwin said the ball was now back in the Federal Government's court.

"The funding split for the project was 80:20 Federal to State and we hope that arrangement will continue under the new Federal government," he said.

"We're looking forward to meeting with Minister Truss in the New Year to confirm their financial contribution."

Current funding of $505 million allocated by the State and Federal Governments allows the Western Highway to be duplicated to Buangor.

Construction is complete on an eight kilometre section from Ballarat to Burrumbeet, and works are well underway on a 23 kilometre section between Burrumbeet and east of Beaufort. Works on the section between Beaufort and Buangor, a 15 kilometre section, are about to get underway.

"In addition to these works, the State and Federal governments have committed $48.45 million to the upgrade of the Western Highway between Stawell and the South Australian border," Mr Mulder said.

"These works, currently underway will help to reduce the likelihood of run-off-road and head on collisions with the construction of overtaking lanes, new rest areas, upgrades to bridges and other rest areas."

Planning for the Western Highway duplication project is on track to be completed by mid-2014.

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