Transport ministers release freight road spending priorities list

Comprehensive overview of planned maintenance expenditure and capital investments

Transport ministers release freight road spending priorities list
Warren Truss says the release provides a baseline of information.


COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council has released national expenditure plans and asset registers for Australia's key road freight routes.

The move is a significant part of the federal government’s heavy vehicle road reform, according to infrastructure and regional development minister Warren Truss.

"The ultimate aim of heavy vehicle road reform is to provide heavy vehicle infrastructure as an economic service, with clear links between the needs of users, the charges they pay and the services they receive," Truss says.

"The two products released today provide a baseline of information needed to transition to a market orientated system of heavy vehicle service provision over the longer term."

The expenditure plans profile maintenance expenditure and capital investments planned by all levels of government on each key freight road over the next four years.

The asset registers provide ratings for each of the key freight roads according to heavy vehicle access, safety characteristics and ride quality.

 "This level of transparency is critical in ensuring that the roads heavy vehicles use and pay for through user charges best and most efficiently meet their needs," Truss says.

"It is true that reform to date has been challenging and it has taken some time to get to this point.

"While direct user charging is needed to fully close the loop between the needs of users and the services they receive, governments recognise there is much that can be done to improve these links within the current charging system.

"This first step towards implementation, together with COAG's decision to support the Australian Government's response to the Harper Review, provide a solid basis for governments to accelerate reform and implement independent price regulation for heavy vehicle charges by 2017-18."

The asset registers and expenditure plans will be updated on an annual basis and governments will shortly undertake industry consultation with a view to refining future editions to ensure they best meet the needs of industry.

While much of the planning is well known, some light is shone on less high-profile routes.

For instance, on top of items such as Sydney links and the M1 that are counted in the billions of dollars, New South Wales indicates it intends to spend $16.54 million over three years to 2018-19 on the Barrier Highway between Broken Hill and Dubbo.

However, it does mention a caveat that there "is no project expenditure planned for this route".

Work on the Barrier Highway, which is designated a "secondary, cross border road connection would boost the transport of around 1,000 kilotonnes of food products, containers and general freight, and fuel and lubricants.

It can act as an alternative to the well-established Sturt Highway that attracts half as much planned spending but six times the amount of freight.

Similarly, in Queensland, while premier freight route the Bruce Highway will have $4.4 billion spend on its improvement, the Barkly and Landsborough highways are set to gain $61 million in spending to facilitate moving live cattle, mining equipment, mining consumables and food and consumer goods.

The Cunningham Highway south of Ipswich is looking at $37.8 million up to 2017-18 while $33 million is to go to the Flinders Highway west of Townsville by the end of the next financial year.

Much of Victoria’s road expenditure centres on port links and southern interstate highways.

For instance, the Henty Highway that terminates near Portland is in for $23 million, the Midland Highway link to Geelong port gets $47.2 million, while the Princes Highway West and the Princes Highway East will see $600 million, including a truck turnaround upgrade at Mt Drummer.

Inland, the Calder Highway’s $123.6 million includes a truck rest area at Ravenswood and bridge strengthening and a truck rest area vacancy information system for Wodonga to Seymour are already underway.

In Western Australia, the Goldfields Highway is to see three heavy vehicle parking bays upgraded for $130,000 and the Brand Highway two sealed for $1.1 million.

Brookton Highway at Lovering Road will see a $75,000 intersection upgrade to accommodate heavy vehicles, including street lighting and improved line markings and signs.

Details were lacking on the Tonkin Highway-Gateway congestion management and freight efficiency upgrade.

South Australian spending beyond Adelaide was focused on maintenance mainly.

In the Northern Territory the focus of much work was on heavy vehicle safety related to pavement strengthening.

Full details can be found here.

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