NSW budget invests heavily in roads


Budget spend includes freight-specific projects to remove pinch points and improve productivity

 

More than $5 billion will be pumped into New South Wales road, rail and maritime infrastructure programs next financial year, including truck-specific projects.  

The NSW budget, released today, announced a record $5.5 billion spend made up of state and federally funded initiatives to develop new projects and maintain existing infrastructure.  

The funds will go towards continuing work on the four-lane upgrade of the Pacific Highway, fast-tracking work on the WestConnex project, road safety initiatives, upgrading the Princes and Greater Western highways and lifting the standard of state and local roads.

"This is the largest roads, maritime and freight budget in the state’s history, bringing our overall funding commitment to more than $20 billion since March 2011," NSW roads minister Duncan Gay says.

The budget allocates $200 million to the Regional Freight Pinch Point and Safety Program, with funds to be invested in works on the Bells Line of Road, the Golden Highway, Kings Highway and Gocup Road.

Another $50 million will go towards the Western NSW Freight Productivity Program. Gay says the money will be spent fast-tracking work on the Cobb and Silver City highways.  

NSW will contribute a further $46 million to the $77 million joint-funded Bridges for the Bush scheme, which is aimed at upgrading or replacing critical bridges and building and upgrading truck rest areas to improve productivity and safety in the trucking industry.  

The government will funnel $37.5 million into its Fixing Country Roads program, which Gay says will be used to fix ‘last mile’ access constraints on local roads.

Gay says the budget also marks the largest investment in road safety in NSW history, with the budget allocating $283.7 million in state and federally-funded projects to safety-related projects.

Money will go to continuing the rollout of flashing lights at school, increasing police enforcement resources and carrying out safety upgrades to the Kings Highway.

"Our $25.1 million commitment to fund enhanced police enforcement is more than double what was spent only five years ago," Gay says.

"Transport for NSW conducted a detailed review of the Kings Highway which identified a number of safety measures needed to protect motorists using this vital link between the ACT and the Princes Highway."

The $10 million to be spent on safety upgrades to the Kings Highway stems from a $59 million program previously announced to improve the route.  

The program includes funding for more speed cameras, including point-to-point cameras targeted at heavy vehicles.

The budget includes a further $99.4 million from NSW to continue work on the northern Sydney rail freight corridor to improve access through the Sydney-Newcastle rail corridor between Strathfield and Broadmeadow.

Country NSW will receive $69 million for major road upgrades including the Moree Bypass and additional overtaking lanes on the Newell Highway.  

"The budget reflects the ongoing commitment of the NSW Government to deliver quality infrastructure to ease congestion, better connect communities, support the nation’s freight task and ensure road and waterway users can access safer and more reliable travel," Gay says.  

Meanwhile, NSW businesses will receive a cut to their WorkCover premiums.

Treasurer Andrew Constance says 200,000 employers across 414 industries will benefit from an average reduction of 5 percent.

"The premium cuts announced today are on top of the average 12.5 percent rate reductions delivered in 2013, which have already returned $334 million," he says.

"This means that since the application of the first set of performance-based rate reductions in June 2013, a total of $447 million in premium reductions has been returned to the NSW economy."

In handing down the budget, Constance announced a deficit of $283 million for 2014-15, before the budget returns to surplus of $600 million the following financial year. 

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