ROAD REPAIRS

THE state government has announced plans to repair sections of shoulders on the Robinvale-Sea Lake Road following a rally in Manangatang last week by outraged locals.

But, Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Manangatang branch president and grain grower Brian Barry said the commitment falls short of the maintenance needed and the road remains a risk to the local community.

On Tuesday, Minister for Roads Jaala Pulford announced $57.2 million to rebuild, resurface and repair 268 kilometres of road across northern Victoria.

Included in this announcement was $2.9 million to rebuild sections of shoulders between Bannerton and Manangatang.

Ms Pulford's office did not respond to questions around whether the maintenance was in response to the community demonstration last week, or if the 80km/h speed limit would be raised after their completion.

Other roads scheduled for maintenance include stretches of the Sunraysia Highway, the Calder Highway at Nandaly, Donald-Stawell Road and Echuca-Kyabram Road.

"Whether it's our truck drivers, visitors travelling to our regions, or locals heading down to the shops — we're fixing roads right across northern Victoria to give everyone a safer and smoother journey," Ms Pulford said on Tuesday announcing the works.

Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp also welcomed the investment.

"Sections of roads across our region, including the Calder and Sunraysia highways, will be rebuilt to ensure northern Victorians can get to where they're going on smoother and more reliable roads," he said.

But Mr Barry told The Guardian while he welcomed the remedial work, "at the end of the day it is still an old road for a new century".

"We need it made into a 21st century road, for the amount of produce and people it carries," he said.

"The dollar value that gets transported up and down...it has to be about one third of the produce from this region that comes down this road from Robinvale."

Mr Barry said the town had been hit with a "double whammy" of reduced speed limits and the indefinite suspension of the Murray Basin Rail Project.

"They couldn't standardise the railway line because they are out of money, so I don't see much use for the rail in the future," he said.

"It will all have to go down the road."

Adding to the disappointment was the effort the community had to go to in raising awareness of the roads condition, Mr Barry said, adding there had been a lack of engagement with locals right through.

"There was no consultation, the sign posts just went up Wednesday morning, with no end date and no warning, to have that dumped on us like that, it has massive ramifications for our community," he said.

CONTINUED — Page 2

FROM — Page 1

Mr Barry said while Member for Mildura Ali Cupper championed the cause since her election, he struggled to reach the premier or roads minister, only having someone return his calls a day after the rally.

Mr Barry said the importance of this issue to the local community had been demonstrated at the rally, with residents pulling together to make enough noise to catch the city's attention.

"Quite a few freight companies that allowed staff to attend the rally, pulled trucks of the road, which was a big dollar donation," he said.

"They parked trucks up for the day and everyone of them has done themselves out of income, so that is a massive contribution to just try and get our name up in lights and get some attention in the city and to generate that amount of interests."

"We pleased they are going to do some maintenance, they haven't touched it for a few years at all, but they have stirred the sleeping tiger.

"What they are offering is just no acceptable in this day and age.

"We are Victorians too and we deserve to be treated with equity."

Mr Barry said with the agriculture and horticulture output, the region was "more than pulling our weight", adding it had been a "pretty horrendous few months" for the town.

"The double whammy of the road and rail, the rail was a broken promise, it was supposed to have been finished last year," he said.

"And just the inequity in how we have been treated, with contempt in that nothing was said to anybody up here."

Mr Barry said he had "stressed quite strongly to whoever I could speak to" that even with an 80 kilometre hour speed limit, the road remained dangerous to the community using it.

"I know they are going to do the work sometime before April, but even with an 80 kilometre an hour speed limit, it's not solving the drop off," he said.

"The school bus starts up on Monday (today), harvest starts in three weeks time, there will be plenty of trucks on the road, hay season has begun, people are moving hay already and started bailing.

"That's a lot of activity on the road, and slowing that speed limit isn't making a difference.

"We were all slowing down and pulling off the road when there was an oncoming truck anyway

"There is immediate attention required it make it safe, even at 80 kilometres an hour with that drop off and they seem to think they can't do anything until crews arrived."