The state government has refused to confirm whether its own $50 million investment for Calder Freeway upgrades will go ahead after the federal government’s backflip on previously promised funding.
The federal government released its long-awaited national infrastructure review on November 16, detailing that the Calder Freeway would not be receiving the $50 million funding that was first promised by the previous government.
It was one of 50 projects across Australia to have funding withdrawn in the spending review undertaken by Infrastructure Minister Catherine King,
Now, the future of the entire upgrade remains unclear, with the state government yet to make any announcements on whether there would be changes to its funding allocation.
The federal government had allocated $50 million in funding in 2019 with the state government announcing it would match that commitment with another $50 million in 2021.
Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) Authority had previously begun investigations and planning for a business case for the Calder Freeway and Calder Park Drive interchange as part of the upgrades.
The Calder Freeway has been the subject of widespread community concern for more than a decade and was named as one of Victoria’s top 10 deadliest roads in 2021, with Brimbank council launching a ‘Fix the Calder Campaign’ the same year.
Lead campaigner of council’s ‘Fix the Calder Campaign’, Brimbank mayor Ranka Rasic described the federal government’s decision to axe the funding as simply “not good enough”.
“Safety improvements are desperately needed on the Calder. Community safety should always be the priority of government,” she said.
“Brimbank council calls on both levels of government to publicly release the business case and commit to delivering its recommendations.
“Minister King can and should reinstate the funding according to the safety priorities identified by the Brimbank community and Victorian Government.”
Calder Action Group president Russell Mowatt has penned a letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese requesting a “rational explanation” as to why the federal government’s funding was axed.
“This news has sent shock waves through the community given that we all have been working towards ‘Fixing the Calder’,” Mr Mowatt wrote.
“… the Calder Action Group has campaigned for many years to avoid future congestion on this important link for all north-western Victoria.”
The state government was contacted for comment but would not confirm the future of the Calder Freeway funding.