Regional Roads Victoria opens its doors but for how long?
THE State Governments new dedicated roads body, Regional Roads Victoria (RRV), has opened its doors and is getting started on what Labor is calling the biggest road maintenance blitz Victoria has ever seen. Across north-eastern Victoria, Regional Roads Victoria will oversee more than $51 million of improvement works on roads right across the regions 4000-kilometre arterial network. From Eildon to the New South Wales border, crews will complete 193 kilometres of upgrade works on roads, as part of the $333 million state-wide maintenance package. A dedicated $941 million from the 2018/19 state budget will fund the planning, building and maintenance undertaken by the new division. More than 1500 kilometres of country roads will be repaired, resurfaced or rebuilt under the program creating around 650 construction jobs in regional Victoria. In Murrindindi, there are planned or in progress works along the Melba Highway in Castella, Maroondah Highway in Narbethong, Whittlesea Yea Road in Kinglake West and Flowerdale, Broadford-Flowerdale Road in Strath Creek, the Hume Freeway in Tallarook, and the Goulbourn Valley Highway in Yea. For the first time, the community can view and keep track of the annual program of maintenance works and projects thanks to a new interactive state-wide map at regionalroads.vic.gov.au Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the investment comes as a result of the community voicing their concerns. Weve heard what people in the north east have had to say about the regional road network thats why were making this record investment to fix the roads our community relies on every day. The establishment of RRV marks a significant shift in the way Victorias roads are managed. RRV will work across Victorias regions, bringing a coordinated, consistent and integrated approach to improving the regional road network. There will be more transparency and insight into our work though the new RRV website which will show all planned, underway and complete projects. The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is calling for more to be done to fix what they said is an unacceptable state of rural and regional roads. In a press release, the Federation claimed the announcement does little more than rebrand the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account which has existed since 1979. While the new legislation is more specific about the types of roads the money will be spent on, and ensures at least 33 per cent of the funding will be used for country roads, the VFF said it is not convinced it will be enough to solve the problems facing the regional and rural network. Renaming an existing trust account will not address the years of neglect for Victorian country roads, said VFF President David Jochinke. While the new arrangements might amount to slightly more money for country roads, there is still a huge road infrastructure deficit in rural and regional Victoria. In the lead up to the 2018 state election we are expecting all parties and candidates to explain how they will guarantee funding to fix our rural and regional roads. As part of its 2018 election platform, the VFF is asking for a $6.2 billion commitment over five years to fix the states roads. The new body could be axed in the event of a change in government at the November state election. Opposition roads spokesman David Hodgett said the viability of the Regional Roads Victoria could be open to review if the Coalition was elected. It comes as a report, released last month, looked into VicRoads management of regional roads called for a comprehensive review in the next term of parliament. You only have to look at locations such as the states southwest to understand that current country road maintenance practices are not working, he said