An infamous section of South Gippsland Highway is one step closer to being made safer and straighter with the realignment contract awarded.
CPB Contractors have been awarded the contract to realign the section of highway, between Koonwarra and Meeniyan, known locally as the Black Spur.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the $115.2 million upgrade would see nine sharp bends removed and roadside barriers installed to significantly improve driver safety.
“The sharp bends of the Black Spur have contributed to a history of crashes on the highway,” Mr McCormack said.
“This is all part of the Federal Government’s record $100 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects getting people to where they need to be sooner and safer.”
Federal Member for Monash Russell Broadbent said the realignment would reduce the length of highway between Old Koonwarra-Meeniyan Road and Minns Road from 3.4km to 2.3km.
“We’ve listened to the community’s concerns and selected a route that significantly improves safety for road users,” Mr Broadbent said.
“The project will also provide a major boost to the local economy, supporting up to 100 new jobs during construction.
“Two bridges will be built over the Tarwin River as part of the upgrade as well as a new underpass for the Great Southern Rail Trail near Caithness Road.”
Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, said the upgrade would provide significant benefits for drivers who use the highway to travel to popular Victorian tourism destinations such as Wilsons Promontory and Venus Bay.
“This upgrade is a big win for freight and tourism operators who’ll benefit from reduced travel times and improved reliability of the road network,” Ms Allan said.
“The realignment will also mean better access to ports in Melbourne, Hastings and Barry’s Beach.”
Victorian Member for Eastern Victoria Jane Garrett said these works will deliver safer and more reliable journeys for local drivers.
“The renowned bends on these parts of the highway has resulted in frequent run-off-road crashes delays and safety concerns. These works will mean a safer journey for the thousands of drivers who use the highway every day.”
The awarding of the contract follows the completion of comprehensive environmental assessments to ensure the protection of local vegetation and the environment, particularly the Strzelecki Gum and Australian Grayling.
Extensive cultural heritage salvage investigations have also been recently completed as part of the Cultural Heritage Management Plan that was approved in June 2018.
The cultural heritage salvage works were carried out by local Aboriginal groups and archaeologists to get a better understanding of the cultural and historical significance of the area.
Salvaged artefacts found will be analysed to provide insight into the cultural history of the area.
Major construction is set to start early next year and follows the extensive planning and environmental investigation work that has now been completed.
The $115.2 million South Gippsland Highway realignment is jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments and is being delivered by Major Road Projects Victoria.