Residents will be relieved that a roundabout on the dangerous Murray Valley Highway and Woods Road intersection has finally reached planning stages but disappointingly will not be finished until late 2019.
The roundabout is one of the key projects that make up the Federal and Victorian Governments’ joint $20 million injection to increase safety on a 130km stretch of the Murray Valley Highway from Echuca to Yarrawonga.
Members of the community have provided important feedback to assist in the development of important safety upgrades on what is regarded as Victoria’s riskiest rural highways.
The community has expressed concerns about the busy intersection which attracts an enormous amount of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, particularly around school starting and finishing times.
Sacred Heart Primary Principal Arn Gorman welcomed the news but would like to see the roundabout works fast racked so it could be finished sooner.
“Now that the Yarrawonga P-12 school has relocated to the one campus the traffic around Woods Road and Murray Valley Highway has amplified,” Ms Gorman said.
“Buses are arriving earlier, parents are trying to get to all school locations coupled with an increase in students riding bikes, scooters or walking to schools.
“As a community we need to make sure all students within the Yarrawonga community are able to commute to school safely. Currently there is no place for our students, this includes P-12, and Sacred Heart College to cross the Murray Valley Highway safely.
“As a community we have a newly constructed health care “hub” that not only offers healthcare, but a coffee shop where community especially our elderly can gather, an opportunity to be social.
“However the thought of them crossing Murray Valley Highway is a disaster waiting to happen.
“There is nothing to keep them safe or guide traffic to stop, slow down and provide the crossing opportunity,” she said.
Woods Point Aged Care Director of Nursing Marita Seamer also welcomed the news but would like to also see it completed sooner.
“It (the roundabout) would increase safety if it was to go in earlier and improved access for staff would be beneficial,” Ms Seamer said.
VicRoads North Eastern Regional Director Nicki Kyriakou said the important local feedback received will help inform the proposed works.
“The Murray Valley Highway has one of the highest numbers of crashes per kilometre of all rural highways in Victoria and we are doing something to change this and increase safety on this road,” Ms Kyriakou said.
“We want to give motorists a safer and more reliable road when they travel through the region.
“More than 130 responses were received from the community feedback process last year, mostly relating to the safety of intersections and a lack of sealed shoulders along the route.
“This feedback, alongside other technical information is being used to develop the program of works for safety upgrades along the Murray Valley Highway.”
Engagement included seeking feedback from community organisations, the freight industry, local government, emergency services, bus and tourism operators, and the general public.
Other works that have been identified for consideration include further intersection improvements, shoulder sealing, signage and improvements to roadside safety barriers at several locations.
Minor works will commence early in 2018, with major intersection upgrades occurring in 2018-2019 financial year.
Over the last decade there has been a significant increase in traffic volumes and the highway has seen an increase in crashes.
In the five-year period ending December 2016, this section of the highway experienced 100 crashes, with seven fatalities and 93 injuries.