As Victoria’s population boom spreads into regional areas, it’s essential that transport systems become a focus for investment beyond Melbourne.
RACV’s Regional Growing Pains campaign identified around 80 transport projects at a cost of $4.7 billion that are needed across Victoria’s largest 10 regional cities.
Road, public transport and bicycle projects are needed in Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Greater Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Greater Shepparton, Mildura, Wangaratta and Wodonga.
Improving transport for people in country areas will mean better access to jobs, education, health and community services. Accessibility is fundamental to people’s sense of liveability, and it is vital to enable businesses to thrive.
With the Morrison Government’s intention to introduce new regional visas for skilled foreign workers to compel them to live in regional Australia for three years, as well as offering international students at regional universities an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa, regional centres are only expected to continue to grow.
As such, regional centres need to be connected to each other along commuter corridors as well as having first class access to Melbourne.
In Victoria, 260 people are killed each year as a result of crashes on roads and so far in 2019, the number of lives lost on our roads are up 42 per cent, with the majority of those fatalities occurring on rural roads.
With approximately 55 per cent of lives lost in regional areas, the figures reveal a very real issue with the state of its roads.
In many cases, crashes occur when motorists make a mistake, but the design of the road can ensure a simple mistake doesn’t end in fatality.
Measures such as safety barriers, improved skid resistance of road surfaces and rumble strips on highways can save lives and reduce injuries from crashes on our roads.
The Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) has been developed by RACV and the AAA as an easy way to understand and measure how safe a road is on a scale using a five star ratings system.
To ensure the safest possible conditions for regional motorists, RACV believes Victorians deserve:
- A minimum 3-star standard of safety on existing major highways.
- Newly constructed sections of highway to achieve a safety rating of no less than 4-stars. To achieve 4-star includes protection from head-on crashes.
To bring attention to the issue, the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) is demanding leaders around the world to ensure all roads a 3-star or better to save lives. RACV supports iRAP targets for 75 per cent of travel be on the equivalent of 3-star or better for all road users around the world by 2030.
RACV would like both parties to consider three major projects to enhance Victoria’s highway network, making it safer for road users. These include;
- Accelerate completing the duplication of the highways to Ararat and Sale to a four-star standard
- Upgrade remainder of major interstate routes to a minimum three-star standard
- Deliver a renewal and maintenance program for Victoria's country highways, with community involvement and greater transparency around road conditions and safety star ratings.
You can find out more on iRAP here
Authorised by Bryce Prosser, RACV General Manager Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, 485 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000