Push mowers are having to be used on Hume Freeway median strips because the new wire barriers do not allow access for tractors, Steph Ryan has claimed.
The Euroa MP was one of seven Coalition members in Parliament this week to launch an attack on the Victorian government’s decision to roll out the wire barriers across the state.
“My office received a phone call from a motorist travelling on the Hume Highway to Melbourne who saw that people were mowing the median strip between the dual carriageways with push mowers because they could not get tractors behind the wire rope barriers,” she said.
VicRoads has been installing the new barriers on the Hume Freeway south from Wodonga since mid-2017, with works currently happening between Indigo and Wangaratta.
The organisation did not deny using push mowers for grass but said methods included include spray treatments, tractor mowers and mowers with “arms” to reach over or under the barriers.
The breaks in flexible safety barriers also allowed the areas behind the barriers to be mowed and slashed.
“Safety is always our first priority and we have a comprehensive plan for slashing grass and trimming trees on the region's roads,” VicRoads North East acting regional director Steve McCallum said.
“We are always looking for the most suitable methods that enables us to carry out our mowing activities around the safety barriers on our roads.”
Mr Ryan first asked the government in December to halt the rollout because of safety fears.
“I have since been told that the minister’s rushed rollout of wire rope barriers has resulted in projects which do not meet safety standards and that there are not enough people to inspect and supervise the works,” she said.
She was backed up by MPs including Eildon’s Cindy McLeish and Polwarth’s Richard Riordan, who both said they were not opposed to wire rope barriers where needed, but believed the mass rollout was a waste of money.
“Despite VicRoads’s own documents from September 2016 suggesting four-metre setbacks from the road’s edge for wire rope barriers, this government is allowing wire rope barriers to be installed less than 30 centimetres from the edge of the roadway, Mr Riordan said.
“Country drivers – who are crying out for potholes to be filled, killer intersections to be improved, roadways to be mown and looked after and passing lanes to be installed – are gasping in disbelief at the profligate waste of money that is being rolled out on a daily basis from one end of Victoria to another.”