Calls intensify for urgent repairs on the region’s deadly road barriers

Calls intensify for urgent repairs on the region’s deadly road barriers
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A 45-year-old Shepparton man died on Friday, April 26, after his ute crashed into a tree on the Goulburn Valley Fwy at Arcadia.

Shepparton police Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Warden said the man’s ute left the road over a rope barrier that was already down from a previous accident and hit a tree.

State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell is disappointed the barrier had not been repaired after the earlier crash.

She brought up the problem of unrepaired wire rope safety barriers in parliament in February, saying the Victorian Government was “dangerously behind” on scheduled maintenance.

The VicRoads Road Management Plan requires a response to missing or broken safety barriers on major regional roads within 30 days, to either inspect and rectify them, or provide an appropriate warning, Ms Lovell said.

But residents who travel these roads daily report that there are sections where the wire rope barriers have been down for months, and no repairs have been done, she said.

Before installation, the government claimed that wire rope safety barriers were necessary to reduce deaths on rural and regional roads, Ms Lovell said.

“The government said these would make our roads safer, but they only can if they are in good condition,” she said.

“Wire rope safety barriers will only remain effective if they are maintained.

“The government must act urgently to repair safety barriers that were damaged months ago, before more lives are lost on rural and regional roads.”

It is not only the Goulburn Valley Fwy and Goulburn Valley Hwy Ms Lovell is concerned about.

She said the safety barriers on the Hume Hwy between Benalla and Seymour and the Midland Hwy between Ardmona and Byrneside also needed repairs.

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The Goulburn Valley Hwy between Shepparton and Murchison is extremely dangerous,” she said.

“And, one constituent told me they counted the rope barrier defects on the Hume Hwy between Benalla and Seymour and there were 50,” she said.

Ms Lovell said numerous sections of the rope barrier between Turnbull Rd at Ardmona and Byrneside had been down before Christmas.

“And there is a tree growing out of it that is taller than me,” she said.

The latest Transport Accident Commission figures show there have already been 56 road deaths in regional and rural Victoria this year, on track to match the tragic toll of 2023 when 295 lives were lost on Victorian roads.

This is a 22 per cent increase on 2022 and a 15-year-high.

“I’m not going to stop advocating for safety on our roads,” Ms Lovell said.

“First they need to fix the road surface… but also repair road safety barriers that are down.”

Ms Lovell said her question in parliament in February had only been answered in general terms and did not specifically address the barriers that she had raised.

Ms Lovell said the government told her it had repaired 3700m of barriers in the Hume region in the last financial year and that hazard inspection frequency of a road was part of road management plans, with inspections carried out “at frequent periods”.

“The rural road death toll is climbing higher, and the Labor government must take road safety more seriously,” she said.

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