Cuts to Calder funding

Members of the Calder Action Group. (Damjan Janevski) 304982_02

Hannah Hammoud

A federal government backflip on previously promised funding for Calder Freeway upgrades has been described as a “travesty”.

The federal government released its long-awaited national infrastructure review on November 16, detailing that the Calder Freeway would not be receiving the multi-million dollar funding that was promised.

It was one of 50 projects across Australia to have funding withdrawn.

The government had allocated $50 million in funding in 2019 with the state government announcing it would also allocate $50 million to the project in 2021. The future of the whole upgrade is unclear, with the state government yet to make any announcements on whether there would be changes to its funding allocation.

Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) Authority had previously begun investigations and planning to inform a business case for the Calder Freeway and Calder Park Drive interchange as part of the upgrades.

The Calder Freeway has been the subject of widespread community concern for more than a decade and was named as one of Victoria’s top 10 deadliest roads in 2021, with Brimbank council launching a ‘Fix the Calder Campaign’ the same year.

Calder Action Group president Russell Mowatt described the federal government’s decision to cut funding as a “travesty” for the local community. The group has long campaigned for improvements to this part of the freeway.

“It’s an injustice for the local community, we’ve been working very hard for over a decade to get some investment,” he said.

Mr Mowatt said the rug has been pulled out from under the feet of many who have worked tirelessly to advocate for investment.

“The accidents still continue, the congestion still continues, and the frustration from motorists still continues. It’s a great disappointment.”

Mr Mowatt said Melbourne’s west is anticipating an influx of people over the coming years, however the infrastructure is not prepared for the forecast population growth.

“Everything is growing, but they’re not investing in Brimbank. This was a priority from the wider community and now this is going to set us back years,” he said.

“I don’t know who they are listening to, to pull this money back, I’m just bemused.”

It was one of two major road projects in Melbourne’s west to have funding cut.

Funding for upgrades on the Western Highway between the M80 Ring Road and Ferris Road, Melton, has also been cut.