Girgarre East residents, backed by Liberal National politicians, are worried that plans to install a centreline wire-rope barrier on the Midland Hwy will increase problems for trucks and farm machinery and lead to more accidents.
As rollout of the Victorian Government’s Towards Zero project continues, VicRoads identified the Midland Hwy between Shepparton and Stanhope as one of the state’s top 20 highest risk rural roads, with 79 crashes resulting in 32 serious injuries and three deaths between January 2010 and February last year.
Upgrade works have already begun, with roads widened and left-hand side flexible wire rope barriers installed.
Girgarre East residents Vic Grzesiak and Graeme Osborne are concerned about a plan to install a centreline wire rope barrier.
‘‘The road will not be wide enough for larger farming machinery and dangerous for B-double trucks and milk tankers,’’ Mr Grzesiak said.
Mr Grzesiak and Mr Osborne are worried the new barriers on the left and those placed in the centre will cause more road rage incidents, leading to an increase in accidents.
‘‘They’re creating a monster. We just hope that we’re not one of the casualties,’’ Mr Grzesiak said.
Liberal National MPs are also questioning the wire-rope barriers, calling on the Victorian Government to have ‘‘a commonsense approach to all further installation’’.
‘‘The blanket rollout of wire-rope barriers is in a number of areas impeding access and manoeuvreability for emergency services,’’ State Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said.
Mr Grzesiak and Mr Osborne have enlisted the support of State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan, who has provided them with a petition asking for a more strategic approach to the rollout.
‘‘In December, I stood in Parliament and asked Luke Donnellan to halt the rollout of wire rope barrier until fears about its safety could be investigated and in January I wrote to the minister to again convey my concerns,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘Thousands of people across Victoria believe the rollout of wire rope barrier is making our roads more dangerous.’’
VicRoads safe system road infrastructure program director Bryan Sherritt is confident the project will reduce the number of head-on and run-off-the-road crashes on the section of road.
‘‘VicRoads has been working with the community and landowners throughout the design and construction of these safety upgrades on the Midland Hwy,’’ Mr Sherritt said.
‘‘We’ve designed these upgrades specifically to the needs of road users, including the local freight and farming industries.’’
However, Mr Grzesiak believes this information is incorrect.
‘‘I have asked all of my neighbours and I haven’t met any in favour of the centreline wire rope barrier,’’ Mr Grzesiak.
‘‘We couldn’t do anything about the wire rope barriers on the left-hand side of the road, I’m just hoping we can get in quick enough to do something about the centreline.’’
People are encouraged to speak with VicRoads representatives at the Mooroopna Lions Club Farmers Market on Sunday, March 18, from 9am to 1pm to discuss the works along Midland Hwy.
‘‘We encourage the community to drop in, meet the team, and discuss the project with us,’’ Mr Sherritt said.
- Ashlea Witoslawski