By Luke Voogt
The Princes Freeway speed limit will rise to 110km/h between Werribee and Corio if Victoria elects a coalition State government, according to a local MP’s election promise.
South Barwon MP Andrew Katos made the pledge on Saturday, the latest development in the debate which has been running since the 90s.
But Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan accused the coalition of hypocrisy and “posturing” in making the 110km/h promise.
The coalition had back-flipped their own position in 2014, Mr Donnellan said, when then Roads Minister Terry Mulder said a speed increase would have “catastrophic impact”.
An increase of 10km/h without appropriate upgrades would cause a 30 per cent increase in crashes, the former coalition MP said at the time.
But Mr Katos, who the coalition plans to make ‘minister for Geelong’, said his online questionnaire of 1900 locals found 78 per cent supported the increase.
“The Liberal Nationals are listening to Geelong motorists who have overwhelmingly expressed their support for a 110 km/h speed limit.
“The 110 km/h speed limit will reinstate our most important intercity road back to a speed limit that can allow drivers to travel safely but more quickly.”
The increase was a “common sense” given the Australian Automobile Association had ranked the highway one of the safest in the country, the Liberal MP said.
The coalition planned to raise the speed limit of the Princes Freeway between Werribee and the Geelong Ring Road exit in Corio.
The section was the only part of a national highway, with a speed limit of 90 km/h or above, which the association had given a five-star rating, Mr Katos said.
But Mr Donnellan accused Mr Katos of electioneering at the cost of safety.
“This is just more deplorable posturing from the Liberals who are more interested in getting their heads in the paper than saving lives on our roads,” he said.
“We announced last year that we’ll review the speed limit between Geelong and Melbourne once all the new flexible safety barriers have been installed – and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”
The government’s latest modelling showed a speed increase between Werribee and Corio could result in a 30 per cent increase in fatal and other serious injury crashes, Mr Donnellan said.
The road’s high volume of traffic made the 100km/h speed limit more suitable than 110km/h, he added.
There have been 121 casualty crashes during the last five years between Werribee to Waurn Ponds on the M1 including four fatal crashes, 52 serious-injury crashes and 63 other-injury crashes.