Five year plan for Victorian infrastructure a mixed bag

Time frames of likely delivery to see intermodalism in slow lane while other projects depend on separate reports

Five year plan for Victorian infrastructure a mixed bag
The cover of the plan


Victoria’s special minister of state, Gavin Jennings, has released the government’s response to Infrastructure Victoria’s inaugural 30-year infrastructure strategy, presented to government in December 2016.

It shows Victorian freight transport faces development at varying speeds under the state government’s wider infrastructure outlook.

For instance, the Victorian government has offered lukewarm support for Infrastructure Victoria’s proposals for regional road maintenance and road asset management giving partial support and support in principle for the two items.

Rural roads have been a continuing source of angst over governments run by both parties.

"Government supports the intent of this recommendation and considerable work is already underway in relation to road maintenance and upgrades," it says.

"Potential extra support for regional local governments will need further investigation to understand current funding issues and potential long-term solutions.

"As this recommendation covers 30 years, future budget consideration will be required to address the full scope."

The story is much the same for road asset management, with work said to be "underway to categorise maintenance regimes that meet service levels through ‘Whole of Life Asset Management Planning’.

"Further budget consideration will be required to address the full scope of this recommendation. VicRoads also undertakes regular reviews of the arterial road network, consistent with the Road Management Act."

Given the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road has a 15-30 year timetable, it garners support in principle.

However, two signature projects for the current government, level crossing removal and, more recently, the North East Link, retain strong backing.

The development of a High Productivity Freight Vehicle (HPV) network, port rail shuttle and regional freight precincts are either less of a priority or bound up with other projects.

On HPVs, work is "underway with the Commonwealth government to develop the network and deploy improvements to roads to enable this network. Further budget consideration is required in future years to address the full scope of this recommendation over 5-15 years."

Delivery of the port rail shuttle and the Webb Dock rail access will depend on the Port Access Strategy, which is being produced by the Port of Melbourne operator, while freight precincts, along with the Western Interstate Freight Terminal, are dependent on Victoria’s freight strategy, which is in development.

More futuristic freight initiatives need more work but not without hope, with driverless freight vehicles partly supported but subject to a 30-year timeframe.

"Government supports enabling the trial of highly automated vehicles with appropriate controls and is working with national bodies to develop regulations that support this testing," it says.

"Once the results of these trials determine the technology is safe and suitable, government will assist in enabling its deployment."

There appears no change to the $5.5 billion West Gate Tunnel project, despite criticism in some quarters.


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