Hinch hits the road for Western Highway upgrades

On a 17-kilometre stretch of the Western Highway, where the road conditions are “clearly substandard”, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were driving through country Victoria.

Except it’s only 30 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, carries more than 50,000 vehicles a day, and is the nation’s second busiest highway for freight movement.

On this section of the Western Highway, between Melton and Caroline Springs, there’s direct access from dirt roads, no flyovers, interchanges or service roads, and until recently there were bus stops and places to do u-turns.

With the population of the City of Melton set to exceed 450,000, the need to upgrade this section of road to freeway status has never been more pressing, mayor Sophie Ramsey told a press conference on Sunday.

She was joined by Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch who has promised to lobby the federal government, on behalf of Melton council, for $78 million to upgrade the road.

“This is a nationally significant highway, less than 30 kilometre from the Melbourne CBD, yet it is clearly substandard,” Cr Ramsey said.

“If no action is taken, it will not only impact our residents but will have a detrimental effect on freight movements across the state.

“Upgrading this major contributor to the local, state and national economy will also boost by improving freight efficiency.”


Senator Hinch told reporters while he hated the word infrastructure as a journalist, he was soon coming to grip with its potency.

“When you’re standing here, and people are telling you the population could increase in the next few years to 450,000, then you know not only is infrastructure the buzz word, it’s the most important word,” Senator Hinch said.

The upgrades will require a half-diamond interchange at Mt Cottrell Road, an overpass at Paynes Road, and an additional interchange at Melton West.

Melton chief executive Kel Tori said this would significantly improve traffic flow.

“This is one of the busiest highways in Australia and motorists are having to slow down to 90 km/h [from 110 km/h] on what should be a freeway,” Mr Tori says.