CONCERNS regarding road safety at the Western Highway duplication protest site at Buangor has led to a speed limit restriction.
Frequent travellers along the Western Highway, however, have voiced concerns that the restriction has created a danger to drivers.
The Major Road Projects Authority applied the speed limit restriction between the Ararat and Buangor section of the highway due to safety concerns.
The speed limit was lowered from 100 kilometres per hour to 80 kilometre per hour in August following the authority’s announcement that it would temporarily suspend works on the Ararat to Buangor section of the Western Highway upgrade.
Major Road Projects Authority project director Nigel Powers said the speed limit was lowered because there were safety concerns for drivers and other people. He said the speed restriction applied for about 500 metres of the Western Highway between Ararat and Buangor
“We’ve lowered the speed limit on a short section of the Western Highway,” he said. “This has been done in close consultation with Victoria Police to ensure the safety of drivers and others near the protest site.”
Mr Powers said the change has been in place since August. He said the restriction would remain while protesters were on site in order to best ensure safety for drivers.
Protesters started forming camps along the Western Highway duplication site in a final effort to save trees with claimed Aboriginal heritage.
The activists have been camped at the site for about four months.
Halls Gap resident Mark De-Clifford is a frequent traveller along the Western Highway.
He said the new speed limit did not allow enough time for drivers to slow down.
“There has been no thought into this speed restriction,” he said. “I was told there were concerns for safety – concerns for the protesters, but the camp is about 50 metres off the road.
“I believe they have caused more problems with this restriction rather than alleviating it.”
Aboriginal Elder Aunty Sandra Onus said the traffic has slowed down, which made the site safer for the protesters.
“There is fair warning ahead for vehicles to slow down and reducing the speed limit does not make much difference for drivers,” she said.
Ms Onus said the protest would continue until definite proof that the trees with Aboriginal heritage would be protected was provided.