The failure to deliver a $10 million safety upgrade on the Mallacoota-Genoa Rd is having a direct impact on insurance costs for local residents, according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.
Mr Chester has repeatedly urged the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Catherine King to deliver a promised $10 million upgrade in the interests of public safety but its been stalled because of a review into the infrastructure investment program.
“The Minister announced a 90-day review of the Federal Government’s infrastructure program more than 175 days ago and any work on the Mallacoota-Genoa Rd project has been postponed until we see the results,” Mr Chester said.
“On top of the obvious fact that people’s lives are at risk while important road safety improvements are delayed, the feedback from local residents and business owners is their insurance costs are also going through the roof.
“Insurance companies have openly told clients that one of the reasons their premiums are increasing is the lack of access to Mallacoota in an emergency situation which adds to the risk of severe property losses.
“The Black Summer bushfires highlighted the perils of a ‘one road in and out’ situation which was why I fought so hard to secure $10 million to increase the resilience of the road.
“Even though this is a state-owned road, I was able to secure funding from the previous Federal Government for some much-needed safety improvements but nothing has happened since Minister King came to office.”
Mr Chester said the Mallacoota-Genoa Rd was no longer fit for purpose with larger vehicles on the road and increased bushfire risks.
“No-one is suggesting we need a four-lane highway to Mallacoota but we do need safe access for locals and visitors,” Mr Chester said.
“The large numbers of people towing boats and caravans, in addition to regular transport industry deliveries, creates dangerous conditions in many of the narrower sections of the Mallacoota-Genoa Rd.
“There needs to be road widening and surface improvements, along with more areas for slow vehicles to pull over and improve the flow of traffic.
“A wider road corridor would assist emergency services vehicles and help to prevent the road being closed for weeks, if there’s another major bushfire.
“It would also help to alleviate concerns in the insurance sector which is adding to the costs of their premiums for household and business insurance.
“The delays are frustrating and leave locals and visitors facing another peak holiday and fire season with a poorly maintained road.
“It’s a complete disgrace. I fear that lives will be lost and people will be seriously injured on sections of this road that we had secured funding for in the past, but this incompetent Federal Minister is now blocking the upgrades.”