FUNDING shortages are expected to halt the Western Highway duplication in its tracks, 50km short of its planned endpoint in Stawell.
Victorian Auditor-General Des Pearson’s 2011-12 financial report revealed last week that the duplication’s current $505 million budget would not be enough to complete the project.
According to VicRoads, the duplication would only reach Buangor – around 50km short of Stawell and 25km short of Ararat – with its current funding.
The four-lane carriageway was supposed to stretch about 110km from Ballarat to Stawell.
The Auditor-General’s report said VicRoads had not been prepared to formally estimate the total cost needed to finish the duplication, but the project total has been stated as $755 million.
The Federal Government capped its contribution to the duplication at $404 million, indicating any further funding requests would be considered in future budgets, the report said.
The State Government supplied $101 million.
Northern Grampians Shire mayor Wayne Rice said he was led to believe the duplication would reach all the way to Stawell.
“To find out this week there’s not enough funding was disappointing,” he said.
Cr Rice said the Northern Grampians Shire was “important to the region” as a gateway to the Wimmera, St Arnaud and Horsham and the main thoroughfare from Melbourne to Perth and Darwin.
The improved roads, faster speed limits and overtaking lanes that would come with the duplication would make travel in the region a lot safer and faster, he said.
“A figure put out a couple of years ago said 1300 semitrailers a night go past my house (in Stawell). By 2020 that will double,” the mayor said.
“(The duplication) would improve travel times for the transport industry and reduce fatigue.
“Farming tractors and harvesters are getting bigger. If we had a dual-lane highway there would be no interference with car travellers.
“Slow moving farm machinery can move along without the driver having to constantly look over their shoulder.”
Cr Rice said his understanding was that the State and Federal Governments has been unable to come to an agreement over further funding.
Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien has indicated he will continue to lobby the governments “to do what they can to support the duplication”.