The Andrews government has been commended, rightly, for its firm and visionary focus on infrastructure investment. The billions of dollars that are being spent expanding and upgrading Melbourne’s commuter rail network, widening freeways, and building fast, new inner-city road systems will make metropolitan Melbourne a better place in just a few years.
But when it comes to regional Victoria, there is much work to be done. Putting aside for now the vast sums that will need to be spent fixing roads damaged by bushfires this season, many of the state’s critical highways and arterial roads are crying out for basic maintenance, let alone upgrades and expansion.
Certainly the Melbourne-Geelong freeway, the Calder and parts of the Western Highway east of Colac are better for having been upgraded in recent years. But roads west of Colac to the South Australian border, in the far south-west of the state, along the Great Ocean Road and in the far north-west and in southern Gippsland, where minor roads are prone to flooding, are nothing short of death-traps.
We say as much while recognising that many accidents on country roads are caused by excessive speeding or momentary lapses of attention. Yet, if country roads were widened and treacherous curves straightened, and if potholes and crumbling paving were filled and regularly maintained, then momentary lapses of attention might not be quite as catastrophic as they are.