‘Duped’ on Duplication

IN DOUBT: The section of Barwon Heads Rd set for duplication.

By Luke Voogt

Work to duplicate Barwon Heads Rd and build a new bridge will fail to meet an election deadline, according to state opposition.

Coalition MP Bev McArthur accused Premier Daniel Andrews of “another broken promise” after he pledged in 2018 to complete the $318 million duplication by 2023.

“Barwon Heads Rd is coming under increasing pressure with development in Armstrong Creek,” the Member for Western Victoria said.

“Not funding this road, as promised, is a slap in the face to all residents who struggle to use this road on a daily basis.”

State Government allocated $400,000 in its 2019/2020 budget to duplicate Barwon Heads Rd between Settlement Rd, South Geelong, and Lower Duneed Rd, Mount Duneed.

The Andrews Labor Government already committed $3 million for a planning study for the same stretch of road in June 2017.

During last year’s election campaign Labor promised to begin planning and pre-construction in 2019 and major works in 2020.

A re-elected Labor government would complete the duplication by 2023, Mr Andrews said at the time.

The project included a bridge to raise the arterial road above train tracks north of Marshall Railway Station, replacing a level crossing, and intersection upgrades.

The 2019/2020 State Budget papers revealed no further funding for the rest of project and stated the completion date was “to be confirmed”.

Ms McArthur said finishing the project in the promised timeline would be “impossible” without further funding.

But Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan assured voters State Government would complete the project.

“We promised to deliver the Barwon Heads Rd duplication, the money is there – and we’ll get it done,” she said.

“When we say we’re going to build something, we build it – that’s what we did with Mernda Rail, it’s what we did with level crossing removals, delivering new trains and upgrading every regional rail line, and it’s what we’ll do with every project we’ve committed to.”

The Andrews Labor Government’s approach was to properly plan each project, finalising cost and timeframes, before funding and delivering them, a government spokesperson said.

“This approach has proved successful, with the government delivering every one of its 2014 infrastructure election commitments,” the spokesperson said.

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