Several accidents of varying severity have occurred near Ararat on the Western Highway in 2021 as works to improve the road's safety.
The 33-kilometre stretch of road between Beaufort and Ararat is upgraded, with an extra lane being added in each direction.
Emergency services have attended numerous incidents on this section of road in 2021:
- A 700-litre diesel spill caused part of the highway to be temporarily closed on Tuesday, May 11. This marked the first of three incidents near Dobie in less than a month.
- At a similar location on the highway, police attended a car accident on Monday, April 26.
- Two people were also taken to the hospital after being involved in an accident at the intersection of Langi Ghiran Picnic Ground Road and the Western Highway on Sunday, April 18.
- Less than two weeks earlier, an elderly couple were taken to hospital with serious injuries after their car crashed on the outskirts of Ararat on Friday, April 9. A Victoria Police spokesperson said it was believed the crash was caused when the driver "had a medical episode and crashed into a tree".
- Three cars were involved in a collision in Buangor on Saturday, January 2. A Victoria Police spokesperson said one person was taken to the hospital for observation, but no other injuries were reported.
Data collected by the Department of Transport shows that in the five years up to December 31, 2020, there have been 33 crashes on the Western Highway between Beaufort and Ararat.
These crashes have led to four people losing their lives and a further 12 people suffering serious injuries.
A Department of Transport spokesperson said works to improve safety on the Western Highway would encompass part of this section of road.
"Any loss of life or serious injury on our road is tragic - that's why we're currently installing 160 kilometres of life-saving flexible safety barrier along two sections of the Western Highway between Ballarat and Buangor," they said.
"This action will help prevent the likelihood of dangerous head-on and run-off road crashes - the single biggest cause of deaths on regional Victorian roads."
Yet Major Road Works Victoria states that more than 6000 vehicles use the stretch of the highway between Buangor and Ararat each day.
Plans to add an extra lane in each direction between Buangor and Ararat have been delayed, with rerouting required to protect two culturally significant trees the initial plan would have seen removed.
The works were initially scheduled for completion in 2020. Major Road Works Victoria's website states, "the revised completion date will be subject to timing of the current legal proceedings and the completion of a new Cultural Heritage Management Plan."
Change afoot up north
The section of the Western Highway between Ararat and Stawell has also had some incidents on it in 2021:
A range of upgrades are also planned for this stretch of road.
These will include the addition of two lanes in each direction with a central median to separate traffic and the construction of a bypass to the north of Great Western.
Environmental field and tree surveys are being undertaken.
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