A business case investigating upgrades for the Western Freeway between Melton and Caroline Springs will go ahead, while a separate Western Freeway upgrade has had federal funding pulled following the Australian government’s infrastructure spending review.
The federal government on November 16 released its review of major infrastructure projects slated for the next 10 years which had previously received funding commitments, with 50 projects across the country to lose funding.
One cut was the Western Freeway Upgrade from the M80 Ring Road to Ferris Road, however, this will not affect the $20 million Western Highway business case that is already underway.
Federal Hawke MP Sam Rae said in a statement the M80 to Ferris Road project was a “zombie project” promised by the Liberal party on the eve of the 2019 election.
“In the years following that announcement they made no progress to deliver it,” he said.
“Our project is a comprehensive business case to upgrade the freeway between Melton and Caroline Springs. It’s a project that will get people home to their families quicker and safer, and will create a lasting legacy for our community.”
Melton mayor Kathy Majdlik said that it was disappointing to lose funding that could improve Melton’s road network, although council welcomed the business case that is underway.
The business case into upgrading the Western Highway between Melton and Caroline Springs is open to community consultation until December 3.
The infrastructure review also raised questions about the The Western Rail Plan, which includes the electrification of the Melton train line.
Although the federal government has kept $30 million for “further planning” for the train line, the Geelong Fast Rail projuect had it’s funding pulled, which the state government had previously indicated needed to happen before the Melton line’s electrification.
According to the state government a number of options for further improvements on the Melton and Wyndham Vale lines are under consideration once the $650 million Melton Line Upgrade has been delivered.
Cr Majdlik said Melton council is concerned that the Western Rail Plan will be further delayed and will advocate for its timely delivery.
“Having electrified rail will support private investment and a diverse mix of jobs for the outer west which is vital to our city’s future,“ she said.
A state government spokesperson said it accepts the federal decision to not proceed with 12 projects in Victoria which were initiated by former Coalition governments.
“But funding for Victorian projects the Commonwealth has cancelled must stay in Victoria,” they said.