The Federal Government will help to fund more than $20 million of Princes Highway safety and infrastructure upgrades as part of a package of works stretching from Bairnsdale to Genoa.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and local MP Darren Chester made the announcement after consultation with local community leaders.
Key projects to be undertaken include a major intersection upgrade at McEachern St in Bairnsdale, replacing the Bullock Island bridge in Lakes Entrance and $4 million for rest area improvements from Lakes Entrance to Genoa.
“This funding was announced in the Federal election campaign last year and will boost safety, while also improving the visitor economy which has been badly impacted by drought, bushfires and the coronavirus,” Mr Chester said.
“We endeavoured to secure matching State Government funding but unfortunately that hasn’t happened and we just want to get on with the job. The Federal Government will partner with East Gippsland Shire Council and the local community to get as much work done as possible as we invest in the future of the region.
“As a Federal Government, we are keen to support local jobs and stimulate the economy with an infrastructure investment program that stretches across Australia.
“These East Gippsland projects will build on the work we have already funded on the Princes Highway East which are already delivering safety and productivity outcomes.”
Mr Chester said the funding would help deliver his plan to boost tourism numbers in the future.
“We need to activate the Princes Highway as more than a transport corridor,” Mr Chester said.
“Our government has already contributed to the construction of six new overtaking lanes between Lakes Entrance and the New South Wales border and record funding for the duplication between Traralgon and Sale, which makes it easier to reach East Gippsland.
“Now we have to give visitors a reason to stop, stay and appreciate everything our region has to offer.
“With this funding, we will be able to improve safety and deliver infrastructure which makes our region more attractive for locals and visitors alike.”
The Federal Government will seek to secure funding contributions from East Gippsland Shire Council and other sources as it delivers the following projects.
- McEachern St intersection and associated safety upgrades: $9.7 million.
- Bullock Island bridge replacement and associated works: $5 million
- Princes Highway rest area redevelopment at Lakes Entrance slipway, Newmerella, Cann River and Genoa: $4 million.
Mr Chester said he would closely scrutinise the costings for the intersection works in Bairnsdale.
“We were relying on cost estimates from Regional Roads Victoria for the $9.7 million commitment but it does seem to be a lot of money for one intersection upgrade,” Mr Chester said.
“The work is needed for the benefit of locals and travelling public but we need to make sure we get value for money once the tenders are advertised.”