IA wants freight prioritised; backs congestion charging

Funding for road access points to ports must be prioritised, according to Infrastructure Australia, which also supports congestion charging

IA wants freight prioritised; backs congestion charging
IA wants freight prioritised; backs congestion charging
By Brad Gardner | July 2, 2010

Funding for road access points to the nation’s ports must be prioritised, according to Infrastructure Australia, which has also thrown its support behind congestion charging.

The body established to guide the Federal Government on infrastructure investment today released its list of priority projects, citing port efficiency, transforming cities and a national road and rail network as key themes in meeting Australia’s infrastructure challenges.

The report, Getting the fundamentals right for Australia's infrastructure priorities, wants money allocated to routes leading into the ports of Brisbane, Botany, Melbourne and Adelaide to alleviate congestion and help the precincts meet an expected rise in freight volumes.

"The Port of Brisbane is expected to experience continuing growth, placing pressure on the efficiency of freight and passenger movements," the report says.

"Projected growth in traffic through the Port of Melbourne will place pressure on the efficiency of freight movements to and from the port."

And with the resources sector tipped to resume strong growth, the report recommends upgrades to the Darwin Port and the Pilbara, while also supporting the Oakajee Port project.

According to the report, governments must also use existing infrastructure more efficiently.

"…all Australians need to accept that congestion pricing is inevitable if we are going to build economically and environmentally sustainable cities," the report says.

As well as congestion charging, the report recommends variable speed limits, ramp access control, clearways and advanced traffic signal management systems.

Infrastructure Australia wants revenue from congestion charging directed back into transport infrastructure, agreeing with the findings of a recent taxation review led by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry.

"Notwithstanding that road user charges (including congestion charging) may prove unpopular in the short term, more serious consideration of such measures will be necessary if the required investment in road and public transport infrastructure is to be delivered," the report says.

Listing it as a priority, Infrastructure Australia calls for action on the link between the Federal and Monaro highways and a freight bypass around Canberra.

"To provide for improved efficiency, the proposed $220 million Majura Parkway is to replace the existing Majura Road as the proposed freight bypass around the centre of Canberra," the report says.

It has also backed a joint submission from the South Australian and Victorian governments calling for investment in the Green Triangle region where higher productivity vehicles operate.

The proposed $340 million investment will involve a new rail terminal, road upgrades to the Riddoch and Princes highways and a bypass.

Corridor upgrades to the Bruce and Pacific highways have also been supported, with Infrastructure Australia saying the latter continues to be plagued by delays and congestion.

It recommends funding for the Bruce Highway to cope with the growth between Brisbane and Cairns.

"The Bruce Highway is the primary road link between these growing centres, inland export industries and coastal ports and southern interstate freight routes," the report says.

It wants motorways retrofitted with intelligent transport systems to improve traffic management in major cities.

"These measures include loop detector, motorway ramp signals and land use management systems including variable speed limits and variable message signs," the report says.

Costing $4 billion, Infrastructure Australia says the investment should be made in South East Queensland, greater Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Infrastructure Australia also wants the management of Sydney’s motorways brought under a single company. It says the city’s network is considerably congested, particularly during peak periods.

"The network has different ownership and pricing structures which limit its ability to operate efficiently," it says.

Infrastructure Australia has also backed the construction of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, which was supported in the recent federal Budget.

A submission by the Victorian Government for a western interstate freight terminal has also been supported to meet demand for rail freight.

The report calls for upgrades to the Eastern Goldfields Railway, the North-South Rail Freight Corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane and the East West Rail Freight Corridor linking eastern Australia with Perth.

As well listing rail upgrades to the South Australian network as a priority, Infrastructure Australia recommends government investment in a digital train control system to modernise and standardise signalling systems.

Costing $20 million, Infrastructure Australia says the investment will ensure interoperable communications train connection and control.

Upgrades to roads in and around the ports of Botany, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide will cost more than $10 billion, while the Darwin Port expansion is estimated to cost $336 million.

The report also lists expenditure on Port Hedland and Abbott Point as priorities, with both projects costing more than $2 billion each.

The freight terminal proposed by the Victorian Government is anticipated to cost $2.3 billion, while the Goldfields Railway project will cost $75 million.

Infrastructure Australia estimates upgrades to the Pacific Highway will cost $6.6 billion.

As well as listing a national freight network and efficient ports as a priorities, Infrastructure Australia also calls for precedence to be given to water supplies, the energy market, broadband network and Indigenous infrastructure.

The Australian Logistics Council welcomed the release of the report, saying it is pleased by Infrastructure Australia’s focus on ports and the freight network.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says the priority list will guide long term investment decisions.

"Upon coming to office, we moved quickly to overhaul the way Australia plans, finances and builds its vital economic infrastructure, introducing legislation establishing Infrastructure Australia within our first 100 days," Albanese says.

"By establishing this new national body, and engaging with the business community, we have improved major infrastructure decisions and made sure the advice government receives reflects the national interest."

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