ARARAT - Bypasses for the townships of Ararat and Beaufort are a step closer to reality with $4 million allocated to carry out detailed planning.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss and Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan announced the joint Federal-State funding to plan bypasses for Beaufort and Ararat.
Mr Truss said the funding was another example of how the Federal Coalition Government was helping to develop regional Australia.
"The Federal Coalition Government recognises that planning for vital infrastructure needs to occur in Australia's regional communities as well as urban centres," Mr Truss said.
"Bypasses for Beaufort and Ararat can improve the amenity of these towns, and at the same time improve road safety for the more than 5,500 vehicles a day that travel on the Western Highway.
"This funding will ensure that bypasses for Beaufort and Ararat become 'shovel-ready'."
Mr Ryan said detailed planning was a vital step towards building bypasses for the towns, as the planning enabled preferred bypass routes to be selected for Beaufort and Ararat, paving the way for future construction.
"The funding will allow us to resolve planning and environmental issues in consultation with the local community, and give more certainty to landowners," Mr Ryan said.
"Local people will be able to have their say on the best options for bypasses of Beaufort and Ararat."
Member for Western Victoria David O'Brien was delighted with the announcement.
"I have been fighting hard to fund these bypass studies for the last two years, meeting with Minister Ryan and Minister Truss and hosting delegations to Spring Street and Canberra," Mr O'Brien said.
"This followed strong representations by several councils and communities along the Western Highway including Pyrenees, Ararat and Northern Grampians.
Nationals candidate for Ripon Scott Turner labelled the announcement as a great win for the local community.
"There are many benefits in bypasses for these towns, including removing trucks from local streets and the jobs which come with major roads projects," Mr Turner said.
"My priority is ensuring our local region gets its fair share of funding for roads."
The announcement comes on the back of last months Western Highway project milestones, with a contract of more than $95 million awarded to Lend Lease for the section between Beaufort and Buangor and expressions of interest being called for the construction of the Buangor Bypass.
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the Commonwealth and Victorian Government were jointly investing $505 million for the Western Highway duplication project, with the contract signed recently for the section between Beaufort and Buangor.
Works on the section between Beaufort and Buangor are scheduled to start in mid 2014 and will see the construction of an additional carriage way providing two lanes in each direction separated by a centre median.
The works will include construction of a grade separated interchange at Eurambeen-Streatham Road, new bridges at Fiery Creek, and bridges over Charleycombe Creek and Middle Creek.