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Darren Chester seeks fund transparency and vital repairs to stop 'smash up derby' on Princes Highway through Gippsland
Darren Chester highlights ongoing crashes on the unsafe Princes Highway, urging collaboration between governments for crucial road repairs and questioning the lack of transparency on available funds.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the state and federal governments are failing to provide a safe Princes Highway following a spate of crashes on a notorious section of road in East Gippsland. Mr Chester said there were at least seven crashes on a short section of the highway during the recent wet weather with the road conditions contributing to accidents, according to several local residents.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is appealing to the state and federal governments to work together and fix a notorious section of Princes Highway
Safety concerns unaddressed
The crashes occurred despite Mr Chester writing to the State Minister for Transport in March this year raising ongoing community concerns about the road surface. "It was like a smash up derby during the heavy rain. I've been told by tow truck drivers and local CFA volunteers that at least seven car crashes occurred between Swan Reach and Lakes Entrance during the recent rainfall."
"We were lucky no-one was killed this time but there have been fatalities on this section of highway in recent years and I have no doubt the poor standard of the road is contributing to the accidents and the trauma."
"The road surface was already poor and it has developed some more serious potholes, while the design of sweeping bends seems to contribute to crashes during poor weather, with drivers losing control and striking roadside barriers or oncoming traffic. We are expected to make sure our cars are roadworthy but governments are failing to work together to provide car-worthy roads," Mr Chester said.
Funding plea unanswered
Mr Chester has written to both the State and Federal Ministers again to plead for funding on behalf of locals and visitors. "While the state government owns the road and is solely responsible for its upkeep, we were able to secure $300 million from the previous federal government for Princes Highway improvement works in Victoria in 2019."
"Some projects have been completed from that bucket of funding but it's been difficult to get the Melbourne-focused Labor government to commit the 20%, which is its agreed share of the costs, for Gippsland's road safety priorities. They are spending billions of dollars to save a few minutes for commuters in Melbourne when they could be saving lives in regional areas," he said.
Funding transparency concerns
Mr Chester added, "Despite repeated attempts, I can't get a straight answer from Federal Minister Catherine King as to whether there is any funding left in the $300 million Princes Highway program. I started writing to her more than a year ago to request details on the funding that is still available for highway safety works."
"Minister King has refused to be honest with Victorians and tell us whether there is money available for important safety upgrades like this section of road near Lakes Entrance. How many people have to be killed and injured, or suffer serious financial losses in preventable crashes before we get some action on this notorious stretch of road?" says Mr Chester.
Pictures from Darren Chester MP website.
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