Jodi Fry, co-owner of Fry’s Cartage, and other angry transport operators fear for the safety of their staff because of the crumbling condition of south-west roads. ANGRY transport operators are demanding an immediate cash injection into the south-west’s arterial road network, which they say is the worst in the state.
Nanjing Night Net

They met in Warrnambool yesterday to launch a campaign which will take their road funding fight directly to Spring Street — the first time such a group has been formed in the region.

The Roads to Ruin campaign intends to directly pressure Transport Minister Terry Mulder to set aside a cash pool to repair the region’s main trucking routes.

Freight truck operators, milk processors, farmers and other business figures met at The Standard office yesterday to set up the campaign.

Roads to Ruin campaign director Jodi Fry said she was fed up with the damage and deterioration along some of the south-west’s main roads and the lack of resources to counter the problem. She said most of the country links the group cited as dangerous came under the jurisdiction of VicRoads and was therefore the responsibility of the state government.

“People are just fed up with the condition of many of our main roads and the way state government after state government turns a blind eye,” Mrs Fry said.

“We’ve come together to directly pressure people like Terry Mulder because the message clearly isn’t getting through.

“Patch-up jobs aren’t good enough because all you need is one decent shower and the gravel is back to where it was before.

“We are calling on the state government to get real, to set aside specific funding to fix up the roads because we are looking at our legal options if it comes to that.”

Ten major freight routes in need of major re-surfacing work were identified at yesterday’s meeting.

Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road near Broadwater and Dunmore, and the Hopkins Highway between Mortlake and Ellerslie, as well as the Foxhow-Camperdown Road, were all identified as thoroughfares with an unacceptable number of potholes and surface erosion.

Shiells Transport owner-operator Peter Shiells said renewable energy development and the break of the region’s decade-long drought had resulted in crumbling roads.

The Woolsthorpe-based businessman said thousands of dollars of damage had been racked up by trucking companies due to potholes and eroded road shoulders.

“I’ve been in the transport business for 20 years and I can honestly say that the roads are in the poorest condition that I have ever seen,” Mr Shiells said.

“All the wind farms popping up across the countryside and the wet weather has meant we’ve been left with roads that are in serious need of repair. You can’t expect a whole heap of heavy trucks to enter the region without having some impact on our local roads.”

Macarthur-Hawkesdale Road was cited at yesterday’s meeting as one of the few non-VicRoads links in need of urgent repair.

Moyne Shire councillor Mick Wolfe told the meeting that regional lobby group Great South Coast was continuing to highlight the need for greater road funding.

“We need to make sure that our voices are heard in Melbourne because the state of our roads is the number one issue that people in this region are concerned about,” Cr Wolfe said.

Mr Mulder’s office was contacted by The Standard yesterday but did not respond before deadline.

Opposition roads spokesman Luke Donnellan said Mr Mulder had failed to respond to concerns raised by the region’s motorists and freight companies.

He said the Baillieu government had rolled back regional road funding since coming to power in November 2010.

“Regional roads and highways, including those in the south-west, are seriously under-funded and this state government has failed freight companies and country motorists,” Mr Donnellan said.

Representatives from Murray Goulburn, Watsons Contractors, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and Moyne Shire, as well as several farmers and small freight operators, were present at yesterday’s meeting.

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