Greater investment needed to boost B-double access

Nationals push for greater focus on key NSW routes to improve truck productivity and B-double access at Port Kembla

By Brad Gardner

The Nationals are pushing for key NSW routes to become part of the AusLink network, claiming it is necessary to cope with the burgeoning road freight task.

Nationals MP Jennie George says federal funds need to be diverted to road links south of Gwynneville to Port Kembla, as well as the section of the Princes Highway from Wollongong to the Jervis Bay turnoff.

George says both sections are not part of the AusLink network, and the Nationals will be submitting to Infrastructure Australia evidence to support their requests.

According to George, the port’s expansion will result in a spike in truck movements, leading to greater congestion levels.

Citing a report from motoring body NRMA, George says the Government can bankroll a four-lane carriageway at the Jervis Bay turnoff which will result in greater economic and productivity returns.

"[This] would reap considerable long-term economic reward, yielding a positive net present value ranging from $611 million to just over $1 billion over the next 30 years," George says.

"Their (the NRMA) analysis showed that these improvements would come from reduced travel time, avoidance of crash costs and B-double productivity gains."

George says there is already a significant proportion of heavy vehicle traffic on the Princes Highway near Port Kembla.

"In 200, our region attracted and generated over 20 million tonnes of freight. The freight task is expected to grow at a conservative four percent per annum to 2035, which is obviously going to place even more stress on the highway," George says.

Furthermore, George claims investment in the section of the highway will reduce the rate of accidents.

George recently organised a meeting of local stakeholders to formulate a submission to Infrastructure Australia.

The meeting resolved to also focus on gaining funding for the Maldon-Dombarton rail link.

George made the announcements while pledging support for the Rudd Government’s AusLink (National Land Transport) Amendment Bill 2008 in parliament this week.

The Coalition is supporting the amendment, which will extend the definition of road to include rest areas and weigh stations.

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