Traffic woes and stories of accidents were among the tales told at the launch of Brimbank council’s ‘Fix the Calder’ campaign.
Brimbank councillors, community members and groups, along with the mayors from Hume and Melton councils, were part of the official launch of the campaign on Saturday morning in Keilor. Sydenham MP Natalie Hutchins also spoke at the event.
The council’s campaign is calling on the state and federal governments to fix the Calder Freeway sooner rather than later.
As part of the campaign, the council has launched a petition which will be tabled in state Parliament at a later date.
As reported by Star Weekly, the council is seeking immediate and urgent upgrades along the Calder Freeway corridor between the interchanges of the Western Ring Road (M80) and Gap Road in Sunbury.
The council wants the Calder Freeway to be upgraded to include a full diamond interchange at the intersection with Calder Park Drive, the grade separation of the Sunbury train line at Calder Park Drive and the duplication of Calder Park Drive between Calder Freeway and Melton Highway.
The federal government has committed $50 million to upgrading the road.
The state government recently announced an investigation into investment priorities along the freeway, but the council says “nothing more has progressed on project design or delivery timelines”, nor has there been “any additional funding commitment from the state government”. Brimbank mayor Ranka Rasic said the council was proud to campaign to fix the Calder Freeway.
“We want the state and federal governments to invest in several major essential upgrades,” she said.
“These Calder upgrades are long overdue and will deliver safer road connections for everyone travelling in the area.
“I’d like to encourage everyone to support Brimbank’s petition to fix the Calder.”
Calder Action Group (CAG) president Russell Mowatt said the launch marked a new beginning in a combined quest to secure urgent funding for the Calder Freeway.
He said Melbourne’s north-west was growing as a result of new housing estates in Sydenham, Melton, Diggers Rest, Sunbury and Gisborne South.
“The north-west communities deserve a better and safer Calder Freeway which has lacked any significant investment over nearly a decade,” he said.
“The CAG Inc group is gravely concerned about the escalating congestion and the number of traffic incidents on this section of the freeway and adjacent ring road. “Between 2014 and 2018 there were 388 crashes – eight of them fatal and 101 serious – on the Brimbank section of the freeway. A total of 1108 persons were involved in these incidents.
“As a result of this growth, the traffic congestion and numerous accidents will increase to the detriment of our collective communities and so will the cost of road trauma, if no major investment is made.”
Joe Hartwig is one local resident who is behind the council’s campaign.
Mr Hartwig, who lives in Hillside, witnessed a serious accident on the freeway in January 2017. He said the Calder Park Drive intersection was dangerous and needs to be upgraded urgently. He also supports the addition of extra lanes.
“I use the road every day,” Mr Hartwig said.
“On the day of the accident, I did [a] U-turn to get onto the freeway as you must. “A truck pulled out across in front of me and a hatchback had no opportunity to stop and ran into the truck at high speed.
“I thought it was a potentially fatal accident. [The young driver] was unconscious for a bit before being taken to hospital.”
Mr Hartwig said if there are accidents or a car breaks down on the freeway, his commute can be extended by as much as 30 or 40 minutes.
“I’m happy to tell my story to hopefully get the awareness out there and hopefully the government can do something about it,” he said.
To sign the council’s petition, visit: fixthecalder.brimbank.vic.gov.au