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    PAVING HALLS GAP’S FUTURE: Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford, second from right, visited Halls Gap to inspect stage one upgrade works. She is pictured with, from left, Northern Grampians Shire Cr Murray Emerson, Halls Gap Primary School students Johnno and Matilda, and mayor Kevin Erwin.

Upgrades designed to improve safety at Halls gap

A ministerial inspection of Halls Gap revitalisation project works has provided the State Government with an opportunity to announce a regional road-safety program and Ararat road improvements.

Labor Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford joined Northern Grampians Shire Council representatives on Friday as the first stage of Halls Gap developments near completion.

A Halls Gap Action Plan includes upgrades to Halls Gap Village Centre and School Road. Stage-two extensions to a multi-million-dollar Grampians Peaks Trail in the area will follow the Halls Gap stage.

Ms Pulford said the State Government had invested $20-million on Halls Gap upgrades and the Grampians Peak Trail collectively to ‘transform the Grampians region to maximise its natural assets, meet future tourism demand and create more jobs across the region.’

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“We’re giving Halls Gap the vibrant village centre it deserves and ensuring visitors and residents can stay safe while crossing the road,” she said.

“Halls Gap is an internationally renowned tourist destination with thousands of visitors coming to the area every year. These upgrades will ensure even more tourists come to visit.”

Road safety

Ms Pulford’s Halls Gap visit coincided with two State Government announcements aimed at improving road-safety, including the launch of a new in-school program.

The free program, targeting students from years nine to 11, is a mobile version of a Road to Zero road-safety education complex at Melbourne Museum, and is designed to provide thousands of regional students with access to road-safety education.

The program, led by Museums Victoria and aimed at young people before they sit for their driving licence, will feature interactive technology and activities focused on increasing road-safety understanding.

Ms Pulford said Road to Zero and the $55-million road-safety complex were part of a State Government $146-million Young Driver Safety Package.

She said the mobile Road to Zero program would ensure young people ‘in regional localities had an equal opportunity to gain road-safety knowledge.

“Young people in regional Victoria are more likely to experience road trauma, so we’re making sure they have access to the best road-safety information no matter where they live,” she said.

“The Road to Zero program brings to life the risks and reality of road trauma and we’re bringing the program to kids the length and breadth of the state.” Schools more than a two-hour drive from Melbourne unable to visit the permanent centre will be able to access the mobile program.

A $100,000 State Government grant for a new painted median strip and dedicated pedestrian crossing points on Ararat’s Barkly Street will also target young people’s safety.

The development aims to provide a safe and easy route for students travelling to and from schools by reducing the danger of ‘increased traffic levels, wide traffic lanes and limited crossing opportunities.’

Ms Pulford said the crossing upgrades, which follow installation of electronic speed signs in the area earlier this year, would benefit hundreds of Ararat students at Marian College and St Mary’s Primary School.

She said upgrades would also encourage increased physical activity in young children.

“It’s part of our work to encourage more young people to get outdoors, get active and walk or ride to school safely,” she said.

The upgrades are part of the government’s $100-million Safer Cyclist and Pedestrian Fund, part of a Towards Zero Action Plan aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries on Victorian roads.

The entire July 3, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!