STAWELL - Planning and community consultation is continuing to finalise an alignment for the Western Highway duplication between Beaufort and Ararat and Ararat and Stawell.
Four public information sessions to display the alignments and provide opportunities for community feedback were held in November at Great Western, Ararat, Buangor and Beaufort.
Mick McCarthy, Project Director Western Highway Project for VicRoads, said since November 2011, VicRoads had been working closely with individual landowners and stakeholders to find the safest and most convenient access on balance for businesses, residents and the local communities that may be impacted by the Western Highway duplication.
"VicRoads is very appreciative of the community's assistance with the planning process and the feedback received has been invaluable," Mr McCarthy said.
"Environment Effects Statements (EES) are required for works between Beaufort and Stawell which will subject VicRoads to the highest level of environmental approval, which includes social, agricultural and native vegetation impact.
"At present, ground surveys are progressing and together with comments received from the community sessions and individual feedback will be incorporated into the impact assessments for the recommended alignment. The project is aiming to have the EES on public exhibition in mid to late 2012."
Subject to the outcome of the EES, highway duplication works between Beaufort and Ararat are expected to start in 2013.
"Construction is progressing well on the three kilometre section of the Western Highway east of Beaufort between Smiths Lane and Beaufort-Carngham Road," Mr McCarthy said.
“VicRoads’ contractor is moving quickly, undertaking road widening earthworks and constructing retaining walls.
“Commencing shortly, between Packhams Lane and Beaufort-Carngham Road the traffic will be switched onto the new Ballarat bound carriageway for a period of several months while works continue. Lower speed limits will be in place at all times and drivers are asked to comply with these limits for the safety of all drivers and work crews.”
Improvements to the existing rest area and the addition of four kilometres of wire rope barriers to improve road safety is expected to be complete by mid 2012.
The contract to duplicate the 23 kilometre section between Burrumbeet and Beaufort has been awarded to John Holland and works are set to commence in the coming months.
The alignment between Burrumbeet and Beaufort duplicates to the south of the existing highway, only deviating to bypass the Trawalla township. Works include a 200 metre bridge spanning the Mt Emu Creek floodplain, new bridge and landscape design for the Ballarat of Avenue interchange and a bridge over the Adelaide to Melbourne rail line.
Construction is continuing on the first eight kilometre section between Ballarat and Burrumbeet, which is due for completion in mid 2012.
To date $505 million has been committed for the Western Highway upgrade by the Australian and Victorian governments as part of the Nation Building Program.