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Plan released to fix Shepparton's road problems

RACV says $330 million needs to be spent to upgrade Shepparton's road network and better connect the city to Melbourne.

JENNA BISHOP August 13, 2014 3:36am

More than $330 million needs to be spent on Shepparton’s roads, including a $280 million bypass, to fix the region’s transport woes, the RACV says.

The motoring body released its Regional Victoria Growing Pains report yesterday, saying critical upgrades are needed to improve road safety and better connect the growing region to Melbourne.

A bypass for Shepparton has been identified as one of the state’s top six key regional transport connection projects.

The report also says safety upgrades to Goulburn Valley Hwy to NSW ($25 million), duplication of Midland Hwy to Shepparton East ($8 million), construction of a bus interchange on Maude St ($5 million), the development of the Goulburn Valley Freight Link ($17 million) and improvement of rail services were also key priorities.

‘‘Construction of a Shepparton bypass is needed to provide a smoother and more efficient movement of goods between Australia’s eastern capital cities ... The bypass would be beneficial for residents and surrounding communities as it would decrease traffic in the CBD and enable through traffic to safely bypass the town,’’ the report states.

Shepparton Bypass Action Group chairman Peter Johnson said the group supported the RACV’s bypass push.

‘‘I’m delighted with the ongoing support of RACV. They’re fantastic with putting pressure on the government to keep the issue in the spotlight,’’ he said.

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan said the study gave further evidence of the region’s road and transport infrastructure needs.

‘‘Our local road and transport system is already under pressure and with Shepparton, Mooroopna and Kialla identified to experience major growth over the next 20 to 30 years in accommodating up to 17600 new residents, investment in our local road and transport network is critical,’’ she said.

Greater Shepparton’s population is expected to increase to 77797 by 2031 from 62352 now.

Cr Houlihan said the council commended the RACV’s support to identify rail and road needs and in seeking government commitment for the project.

‘‘The RACV report continues to highlight the passenger rail issues and needs for the Greater Shepparton community. We now have multiple sources that reinforce the same message that additional direct passenger rail services between Shepparton and Melbourne are needed,’’ she said.

State Member for Shepparton Jeanette Powell said the bypass was a priority project for Victoria.

Mrs Powell said while a bypass would require funding from the Federal Government, the Greater Shepparton community was being called on to identify which stage should be constructed first.

‘‘Selection of a first stage will help the Victorian Government develop a business case and prioritise the project for funding consideration,’’ she said.

The Regional Victoria Growing Pains report also found the majority of the state’s regional highways were severely lacking when it came to safety.

Fifty-four per cent of the Goulburn Valley Hwy is rated with three stars on the Australian Road Assessment Program, while 16 per cent rated two stars.

RACV’s public policy general manager Brian Negus said an investment of $580 million would achieve the minimum three-star standard, saving at least 2800 people from serious injury or death during the next 20 years.

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