Busted bypass causes headaches for trucking and motorists

Trucking operators and motorists suffer as bickering delays repairs to rain-affected Morwell Bypass

By Ruza Zivkusic | May 6, 2011

The Victorian town of Morwell is at a standstill following the three-month long closure of a section of the Princes Freeway due to heavy rain.

There is debate over who is responsible for a leaking stormwater drain on the Morwell Bypass that needs to be lined before the road can be reopened, leaving truck drivers and residents frustrated.

There is no date as to when the freeway will reopen, with the Victorian Government and electricity generator Hazelwood Power currently arguing over who will pay to fix the drain.

Gippsland trucking companies are being forced to travel up to 30 minutes extra on each round trip to Melbourne due to traffic diversions through the centre of the town, adding costs to their business and causing traffic pain to Morwell residents.

Dyers Gippsland Transport Director David Dyer says the closure is "substantially" affecting his business.

"It’s affecting our costs of operations to some degree but it’s more the inconvenience of it," he says.

"We’ve got three depots affected by it and we have to travel through Morwell instead of getting on the bypass. Now we have 100 trucks a day go through Morwell which is probably more of an inconvenience to the people of Morwell than to anyone else."

Tourist traffic was at a standstill for up to an hour during the Easter holiday, Dyer says.

The bypass has been closed for almost three months after cracks were found in the road pavement following rainfall in February. The Victorian Government is working on stabilising land along the freeway route.

Morwell MP Russell Northe says the reopening of the freeway is a "million dollar question".

"There is a range of activities being undertaken at the moment, issues around ownership of a drain which needs to be repaired to help resolve the problem," he says.

"I would like to know the answer too but we simply don’t know when it might be open, even when the drain is repaired there still needs to be some monitoring for a period of time to make sure there’s no further movement of cracks appearing in the freeway."

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