STAWELL - The Western Highway Action Committee is continuing to lobby the state and federal governments in a bid to see funding secured for the completion of the highway's duplication.
Committee chairman, Northern Grampians Shire Councillor Kevin Erwin, said with a federal election approaching, the committee is seeking a commitment to complete the duplication through to Stawell.
"Funds have been committed to part of the highway upgrades, but the later sections won't be commenced until funds are secured," he said.
"While the duplication has been planned to Stawell, the current funding situation will mean it finishes about 50 kilometres short, somewhere in a paddock in Buangor.
"At a country forum in Hamilton this month, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott made the statement that the highway would be duplicated to the South Australian border, while Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese has said that the nation's second busiest highway has for too long been neglected and starved of much needed funding.
"The funding split at the moment is 80 per cent from the federal government and 20 per cent from the state government and it is vital that this arrangement is maintained in order for the project to be completed in the necessary urgent timeframe."
Cr Erwin said members of the Western Highway Action Committee had already met with Minister for Public Transport and Roads Terry Mulder to discuss funding for the Beaufort and Ararat bypass.
"Both Ararat Rural City Council and Pyrenees Shire Council are taking their own steps to secure bypass routes. It's vital that we have funding to complete the whole job," he said.
Cr Erwin is currently in Canberra meeting with the federal government to discuss the highway duplication.
"The duplication is our highest priority and we will continue to lobby throughout the year to see it completed."
Cr Erwin said the duplication would have many benefits for the Northern Grampians Shire and the nine other municipalities represented on the Western Highway Action Committee.
"As the principal road link between Melbourne and Adelaide, the Western Highway serves interstate trade between Victoria and South Australia.
"It is the key transport corridor through Victoria's western district and the duplication would significantly increase productivity for local industries including agriculture and meat production," he said.
"Improved safety is another reason we are pushing so hard to see the duplication completed. In recent years, the 110 kilometre stretch of highway between Ballarat and Stawell has claimed four lives and there have been more than 50 accidents recorded."