Kevin Erwin has 2020 vision for Western Highway duplication

KEVIN Erwin's fight for funding for the Western Highway duplication through to Stawell goes far beyond his work as a Northern Grampians Shire Councillor.

Mayor Cr Kevin Erwin.

Mayor Cr Kevin Erwin.

Cr Erwin is also a Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteer and has been a member of the Western Highway Action Committee since 2004.

Most recently as the committee Chair he has been a fierce advocate of the project with his focus now firmly set on a commitment of funds for completion of the duplication from Buangor through to Stawell.

At least 33 people have been killed on the stretch of highway between Beaufort and Dadswells Bridge since 1994.

A further 142 people have been seriously injured, another 177 were in some way involved in the incidents.

There remains eight identified locations under the black spot program, they consist of two intersections and six lengths of road.

The impacts spread beyond the crash site with family and friends of the victims left bereaved and first responders, including Cr Erwin living with what they have witnessed every day.

"In my role as a CFA volunteer, I have attended quite a few accidents, some really nasty ones and it just makes you wish you could do something to make that road safer."

Cr Erwin said decreased travel time and improved safety have been proven to be just a couple of the advantages of a dual carriageway to Stawell.

"Every time you cut down travel time for freight it is a cost advantage and that rolls through all of society."

According to data, in 1996, the number of vehicles using the section of the Western Highway between Beaufort and Dadswells Bridge per day was 1900 including 600 trucks.

In 2013 that figure had risen to 3100 including 1000 trucks and in 2014 it is estimated around 5500 vehicles use the road between Beaufort and Stawell every day.

"Sometimes you see figures and you start to doubt whether they are accurate or not," Cr Erwin said.

"It has gradually grown, and I think the last couple of years you can really notice the difference, especially the amount of trucks.

"I was coming back from a meeting in Ararat one night and I think there were 26 trucks in a line.

"That is quite scary for a car to be trapped amongst that many trucks."

Cr Erwin said with time getting the better of the him he is realistically hopeful that by 2020 the duplication will reach Stawell.

"I think when we originally started the project, we set a goal of 2017 through to Stawell. Obviously we won't make that now, but hopefully by 2020 we'll see it here," he said.


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