Long-suffering motorists travelling on Victoria's arterial roads, highways and freeways will soon get a boost thanks to new variable speed signs and a crackdown on inappropriate roadwork speed limits.
Roads Minister Tim Pallas said today that while lower speed limits around roadworks are an important safety measure, more can be done to ensure that the lower limits are reasonable and only in effect when most appropriate.
Mr Pallas said that the Brumby Labor Government is delivering the state's largest-ever improvements and upgrades program, which has seen motorists travelling through more roadworks zones than ever before.
“We understand the frustration of motorists driving through roadworks zones when there is no work going on, which is why we’re introducing a Code of Practice that all contractors will have to adhere to or risk being excluded from bidding for future government-funded road projects," he said.
"While recognising the need for roadwork speed limits, at times they are inappropriate for the type of works underway, are set out too far, or in some cases are left in place too long."
Mr Pallas said that while motorists are expected to 'do the right thing' when travelling through work zones, it is just as important that contractors adjust or remove their speed limit signs in a timely manner.
The Traffic Management Code of Practice comes into play on 1 September, 2010, and includes:
- New measures requiring electronic message boards on long-term freeway work sites to advise drivers of the reason for lower speed limits;
- Only in exceptional circumstances will roadwork speed limits be set at more than 20km/h below the normal posted speed limit;
- Increased surveillance of work zones by VicRoads with greater scrutiny of contractors to ensure work hours and speed signing conform to traffic management plans;
- Where contractors are found failing to meet required standards, they will be excluded from bidding for future Victorian Government road projects; and
- Greater provision for cyclists and pedestrians around worksites where appropriate.
Mr Pallas said (motorists needed to be aware) there were often valid reasons for lower speed limits even with no works obvious, such as when traffic lanes are narrowed, where there is no line marking, or when trucks need to access work sites directly into fast-moving traffic.
“On projects such as the West Gate Bridge strengthening, works may be underway inside or under the bridge, requiring lower limits to minimise risks to workers and impacts on critical construction activities,” he said.