BUDGET: Freight focus under managed motorway scheme

Federal Government to spend $61.4 million retrofitting motorways to improve productivity, including prioritising freight

By Brad Gardner | May 12, 2011

More than $60 million will be spent over three years in a trial to retrofit motorways to improve productivity and potentially prioritise freight.

The Federal Budget has allocated $61.4 million to a managed motorways trial as part of the National Urban Policy to address problems such as congestion, population growth and climate change.

The policy outlines a set of eligible projects, including funding for the M4 in NSW to introduce ramp metering and freight prioritisation.

Other initiatives that could be funded under the motorways trial include ramp metering for the Roe Highway and Graham Farmers Freeway in Western Australia and smart technology for the Gateway Motorway in Brisbane.

This includes pole mounted variable speed limits, ramp signalling, travel time sign and variable message signs.

Ramp metering, which regulates the flow of traffic entering motorways through traffic signals, is seen as an effective measure in improving travel times and reducing accidents.

A draft national land freight strategy released in February by Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese recommended freight-specific routes between capital city ports and intermodal terminals.

According to the National Urban Policy, ramp metering can improve travel speed by up to 26 percent and cut road accidents by between 15 and 50 percent.

Under the policy, projects will be funded by the federal and state governments. It says funding will be subject to jurisdictions signing national partnership agreements on the establishment of national regulators for the heavy vehicle, rail and maritime industries.

The policy also puts restrictions on funding under the next round of the Federal Government’s Nation Building Program. The scheme runs in six-year timeframes, and the current program is due to expire in 2013-2014.

Governments will need to produce a 20-year freight strategy consistent with the draft land freight strategy released by Albanese by 2014 to secure funding for transport infrastructure projects.

The National Urban Policy says the plans must identify demand forecasts, bottlenecks and land use planning for freight terminals.

The strategies must also include plans for transport corridors, freight hubs and ensuring there is a focus on the entire supply chain.

The National Urban Policy proposes a range of measures to improve cities, such as addressing sustainability, liveability, and planning and management.

"This is the first time that an Australian Government has sought to outline its overarching goals for the nation’s cities and how we will play a role in making them more productive, sustainable and liveable," Albanese writes.

"The National Urban Policy is about how the Australian Government can facilitate better outcomes in our cities through both direct investment and by influencing the actions of others."

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