Highway will be fixed
PROBLEMS on the South Gippsland Highway between Lang Lang and Yarram will be fixed.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan made that promise in Port Welshpool last Thursday night.
He was guest speaker at a dinner held during the quarterly meeting of the lobby group, South East Australian Transport Strategy.
Mr Ryan said the State Government had a rolling program for the work.
“It will take years, but by degrees it will be done,” he said.
The program includes work on the Black Spur near Koonwarra.
“We have to deal with that for all the reasons that all Gippslanders know,” Mr Ryan said.
He confirmed passing lanes would be created on the Strzelecki and Hyland highways.
Last August, VicRoads announced $7.13 million would be spent on the South Gippsland Highway between Meeniyan and Bena.
And in early November, then Roads Minister Tim Pallas, announced $41.5m for improvements to the South Gippsland and Bass highways, but $39.8m of that is for stage seven of the duplication of the Bass Highway. Work on that has just started.
Freight rail is vital too, said Mr Ryan, because “trucks are getting bigger and bigger”.
“In our long term planning, the government is absolutely intent on dealing with the issues of the day. Policies need to look at the longer term for the state, five to 10 to 50 years,” he said.
Mr Ryan spoke about the “chicken and egg” situation of rail freight and Port Anthony.
A rail connection to that port was needed to provide better transport, but that has never been justifiable because the port is not busy enough. A $2 million grant for construction at the port is seen by Mr Ryan as a circuit breaker.
“Once we get it functioning, it will be used – one drives the other, particularly from a rail freight perspective,” he said.
Mr Ryan was invited to address the dinner by SEATS executive board member Jeanette Harding, a councillor with South Gippsland Shire.
Mr Ryan told The Star he was happy to accept the invitation because, busy as he is, he believes his first responsibility is to his Gippsland South constituents.
“They’re the ones who elected me,” he said.
He said the dinner coincided with the Coalition’s 77th day since being sworn in to government.
He never speaks from notes and told The Star on Friday afternoon, that he would “go into the filing cabinet” to recall what he said the previous evening.
Apart from road and rail freight, Mr Ryan said he spoke about the “awful tragedy” of the Victorian floods and the “very humbling” stories from bushfire affected communities, as well as the need for 1700 more police officers and security staff for railway stations, including those in the Latrobe Valley.
As well as being Deputy Premier, Mr Ryan is the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response.
During the SEATS conference, Murray Goulburn transport manager Brad Close, outlined the issues his company faces in the region, and VicRoads representatives Harvey Dinelli and Patricia Liew provided an update on their commitments.
South Gippsland Council’s economic development co-ordinator Ken Fraser, gave an audio visual presentation and provided delegates with promotional packs on South Gippsland.
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