Six western Victorian councils, including Hindmarsh, are calling on the state government to fund upgrades to C-class roads throughout the region.

The call is being pushed by the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Transport Group (WSMRTG) which represents the Buloke, Hindmarsh, Horsham Rural City, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera, and Yarriambiack municipalities.

The Group is calling on the state government to inject $50 million to improve safety on 30 of the region’s worst C-class roads.

WSMRTG Chair, Northern Grampians Councillor Kevin Erwin, said that the group has been closely researching the state of roads across the region, and the impact that their condition is having.

“Our group has been researching and identifying key issues impacting the region’s transport network to understand how these impacts are limiting Western Victoria’s growth and development and this research clearly shows that the poor condition of many of our C-class roads is negatively impacting industry, agriculture, tourism and communities and is putting lives at risk.

“Crash rates on these roads are two to three times greater than the country Victorian average – this is simply unacceptable. These roads are vital to our communities and their upkeep deserves to be a priority,” he said.

Many C-class roads throughout the region have narrow seals, broken edges and sharp drop-offs – in some cases making it difficult and dangerous for road users to pass each other.

Longer trucks and larger farm machinery need to use our road network, but in many cases need to sit in the middle of the road given the dangerous shoulders.

Hindmarsh Shire Council Mayor Rob Gersch noted that many local roads were not originally designed for the traffic they see today.

“These roads were simply not built to accommodate the volume of traffic, size and loads being carried by trucks in today’s world.”

Cr Gersch also highlighted the risk posed by these roads being used as highway detours.

“The narrow sealed roads are also often used as detours when accidents occur on major roads, ironically increasing the risk of causing another accident. An unfortunate example of this was the incident on Blue Ribbon Road, Horsham, which followed the Pimpinio bus crash last year.”

The 30 narrow-sealed roads most in need of urgent attention have been identified by the Regional Transport Group with Regional Roads Victoria telling the group that, should funding be made available, an early start could be made on many of these projects which would help stimulate the regional economy at this difficult time.