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STATE Transport Minister Terry Mulder has called on Canberra to provide extra funding for south-west roads feeling the pressure from increased truck traffic.
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The Polwarth MP claimed planning co-ordinated by the past state Labor government failed to acknowledge the effect of heavy haulage trucks on arterial roads, leaving behind an expensive clean-up bill.

National Party leader Warren Truss has also weighed in to the debate, calling on renewable energy developers to provide their fair share of funding for the regional roads they use.

Mr Mulder told The Standard he understood the concerns raised by south-west motorists and said the state government had made active steps towards improving the region’s road network.

“Roads around the Macarthur wind farm is one area that has been identified as being of particular concern,” Mr Mulder said.

“No one at the time, including the past government, envisaged that the construction works would have had such an impact on the road network and now we are seeing the results.

“In the interim, we have to ensure that the roads around renewable energy projects are safe to travel on but we will look towards further co-operation with the federal government to see what can be achieved.’’

Mr Mulder cited $15 million for Princes Highway passing lanes, redevelopment of Foxhow Road and an annual allotment of $1 million to rural councils such as Moyne and Glenelg to repair local links.

“Unfortunately, the base of many roads in the Western District are volcanic which have served us well in dry years but begin to break apart under wet weather,” he stated. “Basalt is the base of most roads over the divide in northern Victoria and is better suited to handling the challenges that winter poses.”

Mr Mulder’s comments come after the launch of the Roads to Ruin campaign, a group formed by freight truck companies and associated enterprise based in the region.

A spokesman for Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said Canberra’s main focus was on its national network of arterial links, a portion of which extends from Geelong to Colac.

“Our fundamental priority is addressing the inherited neglect of our National Highway Network which covers some 25,000 kilometres,” Mr Albanese’s spokesman said.

His department declined to expand on Mr Mulder’s comments.

Mr Truss, who is the federal opposition’s transport spokesman, told The Standard yesterday he believed the Gillard government needed to pull its weight when it came to regional roads.

“I would think that wind farm developers, like any business, need to act as good corporate citizens and invest their fair share in the network of roads they use,” Mr Truss said.

The National Party leader is expected to visit the south-west later this year as part of a highway tour around south-eastern Australia.

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