It would not be unrealistic to hope for long-awaited Goulburn Valley Shepparton bypass investment in today’s Federal Budget, some local stakeholders believe.
But the Federal Member for Murray says it is likely too early for a federal commitment.
Goulburn Regional Partnership chair David McKenzie says following a $10million bypass study being funded last year, final preparatory works were under way and that ‘‘things are happening on the ground there’’.
The project was almost at a point where it was ‘‘waiting for a federal response,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
‘‘The state (government) have done about all they can,’’ he said.
‘‘I hope it is not too soon for a commitment from the Federal Government.
‘‘The reshaped stages 1A and 1B of the project are basically looking for a federal catalyst.
‘‘I would really be hoping there was something in the federal budget for the bypass.’’
Greater Shepparton City Council recently requested $260million for the construction of stage one of the bypass in its endorsed ‘‘ask of government’’ document.
In last year’s Victorian budget, $10million was allocated for planning and pre-construction works for the long-awaited 36km project’s first stage.
The goal of the broader $1.3billion, decade-spanning project is to draw B-double trucks away from Shepparton’s CBD to ensure safer passage, boost productivity and improve passage of products to domestic and export markets.
The project has been split into stages, with the council’s stage 1 ask $260million for the first 10km encompassing Midland Hwy to Echuca-Mooroopna Rd to Goulburn Valley Hwy.
Its ‘‘ask of government’’ document describes this first stage as a standalone, viable project set to deliver the much-vaunted second river crossing between Shepparton and Mooroopna.
Mr McKenzie said he would like to see the full first stage funded, but understood it would likely need to be funded in parts.
‘‘I think the project has enough merit to fund it in its entirety,’’ he said, but acknowledged the funding split between the state and federal governments was a matter of negotiation.
While the state government would need to be prepared to ‘‘play its part,’’ he said a federal catalyst was being sought.
Council chief Peter Harriott described the project as the council’s main ask of the government.
He understood a business case was set to be completed by mid-year, before a formal engagement process would begin.
But he remained hopeful.
‘‘Whilst that’s all taking place, you never know what might be announced during a federal budget.’’
But Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum believed it was too early for federal bypass funding, responding ‘‘not yet’’ when asked about the chances in this year’s budget.
‘‘We’re still waiting for the state to complete work,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s still work to do before coming to federal budget for assistance.’’
State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said it would be ‘‘terrific’’ to see bypass funding to indicate a commitment to it progressing.
She said following planning work, a clearer picture on project requirements was emerging.
‘‘I haven’t heard it said that all the work is done and we’re ready to go... I’d just like to see a real acknowledgment that both the state and feds are working on this project.’’