Work suspended on Western Highway pending federal heritage assessment
The Major Road Projects Authority (MRPA) will temporarily suspend work on the Ararat to Buangor section of the Western Highway Upgrade, following a request from the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy.
The federal department has written to the authority to request that works cease so that it can undertake an assessment of the area’s cultural heritage, following an application to protect land under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.
MRPA Executive Director Andrew Williams said that MRPA has agreed to the Federal department’s request to temporarily suspend work.
“We will make a submission to this inquiry demonstrating the extensive and collaborative process we’ve undertaken with the Djab Wurrung community, including work with the Registered Aboriginal Party, Martang Pty Ltd, to put in place a Cultural Heritage Management Plan and consultation with the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation,” Mr Williams said.
“MRPA and VicRoads have been working closely with Traditional Owners for several years and we continue to work with members of the Djab Wurrung community throughout the delivery of the Western Highway duplication.”
The $672 million Western Highway duplication between Ballarat and Stawell will improve safety on the highway and provide safer and smoother travel for all drivers and support communities and the regional economy across Western Victoria.
The project has undergone a comprehensive, independent Environment Effects Statement process and obtained the approval of the Registered Aboriginal Party, Martang Pty Ltd.
The Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the project has been approved by Martang Pty Ltd, who along with the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation represent the interests of Djab Wurrung community.
Over the last five years there have been 72 crashes on the Western Highway between Ballarat and Stawell, including five fatalities and 32 serious injuries.
The Australian Government has committed $501.3 million and the Victorian Government $171 million to the Western Highway duplication between Ballarat and Stawell.
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