MPs take highway fight higher

By Ewen McRae

A campaign to upgrade the Western Highway has clicked into gear again, with local MPs raising the issue in federal Parliament recently.

Federal members Catherine King and Brendan O’Connor both used speeches in Parliament to call on the government to intervene to ease congestion and deliver long-awaited upgrades.

Ms King, who holds the seat of Ballarat, said the upgrades were vital to the fast-growing communities the highway services.

“The link that the Western Highway provides between my electorate of Ballarat and Melbourne is integral to the continued population and economic growth of our regional communities,” she said.

“It is the backbone of western Victoria.

“As population continues to boom in Melbourne’s west the pace of travel on the road is only slowing. More than 60,000 vehicles travel along the Western Highway in each direction each day, spending increasing amounts of their time sitting still and going nowhere.

“These delays will only grow worse into the future with the highway projected to accommodate 85,000 vehicles per day by 2021 and 113,000 by 2031.

“The road as it is simply cannot cope.

“The government needs to stop ignoring our region and investigate the best way to move forward to ensure that our communities have the link to Melbourne befitting our rapidly growing population.”

Ms King called on the government to deliver new interchanges to service the Melton West and Rockbank areas, as well as the addition of lines and removal of a grade access between Melton and Caroline Springs.

Mr O’Connor, who holds the seat of Gorton, echoed Ms King’s thoughts on the highway’s importance.

“The Western Highway needs more investment,” Mr O’Connor said.

“It is a very important transport link to not only Ballarat and Bendigo, but also to South Australia, and it’s important the federal government now commit to funding improvements to the Western Highway to ease the ever-growing congestion.”