LONG term work on a section of Bentons Road, Moorooduc has exhausted the patience of drivers and residents who are driving along the closed-off road after more than a year of disruption and diversions.
Mornington Peninsula Shire announced early last year it would complete the third and final stage of the Bentons Road upgrade in July 2021.
That date was later extended to December 2021, but the latest estimate is now sometime this month, although exactly when is unclear, and government websites list March 2022 as the completion date.
Residents Scott Jarbie said he was furious at the length of time drivers and residents had been inconvenienced and frustrated that the works had required the road to be closed rather than temporary adjustments such as single lanes or reduced speeds.
“I refuse to listen, and I’ll use it, I’ve seen several cars just drive through, what are they going to do, shake their heads as you drive past … enough is enough,” he said.
The upgrades are part of the federal government’s roads to recovery program and the final stage of Bentons Road involves improving the section of between Moorooduc Highway and Derril Road.
Mr Jarbie said it was “ridiculous” to close the road to traffic as it was a major east-west link.
Another resident, Ken McBride, questioned the cost of the $2.5 million upgrades, when other roads such as Bungower have not had that investment.
“I wonder what the people stuck in traffic on Bungower Road think when they see that $2,500,000 was spent on the eastern end of Bentons Road, a comparatively quiet road where traffic counts would be interesting and hard to support the expense,” he said.
“How could that stretch of road have been the highest priority to spend $2.5 million on east-west traffic, even if it is federal government money?
“Of even greater concern is the fact that this road has been closed to traffic all of 2021, and remains closed, when it was supposed to be completed in June 2021.”
He said he could imagine the public outcry if other roads like Bungower were closed for one week, “let alone 12 months”.
The eastern section of Bentons Road opened briefly before Christmas but was closed to traffic again shortly after for the installation of crash barriers.
Mr Jarbie said when he tried to access the road in January and saw it was closed again he called the council but could not get answers.
“They put me through to infrastructure [department] but the person who answered didn’t know anything and said, ‘I’m just on the desk’,” he said.
“This is a major road link between Derril Road and the highway, and I just can’t understand why they would shut it. Why not open it and just reduce the speed, you never see more than one or two people working on it, and they’re often just standing there talking.
“They’ve got no consideration for people who need to use the road and now have to either use the dirt road option to get where they want to go or go wandering around the roads.”
In a statement, the shire said 2021 had been “a challenging year and construction was interrupted and delayed for several reasons including COVID-19 working restrictions, storm damage, wet weather and availability of materials”.