Four months after the closing of the 1st round of the Local Roads to Market Program, the benefits of the $25 million dollar curriculum will finally be felt with the announcement this week that $800,000 would be devoted to funding for road development in the South Gippsland area.
Last year the Victorian Government rebranded a previous rural scheme The Local Connectivity Program, which became the Local Roads to Market Program, since then they have decided on the first 30 projects to fund throughout regional and rural Victoria, estimated at $11.5million, supporting $22million worth of works in 27 local government areas.
Last week Victorian Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaala Pulford announced the upgrades to the important agricultural transport routes in the South Gippsland region. Among others, the Local Roads to Market will help fund two pertinent projects: the widening and sealing of the 7km Labertouche North Road and the reconstruction of Powneys Road Bridge.
In contextualisation, Labertouche is used daily by local diary, beef, agriculture suppliers, emergency services vehicles and residents, but currently exists as an unsealed gravel road which has been highlighted as posing serious safety concerns. The road will receive $581,935 by the state government, going towards a $1,166,935 cost.
In a recent statement, Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Councillor Joe Gauci said "Labertouche North Road's condition has detonated in recent years, resulting in excessive dust and corrugations in the summer months and deep potholes and flooding in the winter." The sealing of the 7km will eliminate excess dust and prevent a muddy and slippery roads in wet conditions.
The Powney's Road Bridge, which is used for heavy dairy and cattle farmers vehicles currently is a timber deck bridge, which is no longer suitable to support the weight of the machinery, after a recent inspection found severe corrosion of its structural steel members via environmental exposure. The bridge will be replaced with a 14m long concrete bridge.
The Local Roads to Market program is a pillar of the state government's Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund. It will continue in the following years as a means to seal local dirt roads, widen dangerous intersections and strengthen problematic bridges.