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Industry greets Vic poll result, North East Link tender

Road project and driver training pledged; new speed rules for empty worksites

 

Transport, roads and infrastructure bodies have welcomed Daniel Andrews’ re-election as he announced action on one of the Labor’s election commitments – to put the North East Link project out to tender.

Expressions of interest are being called for works involving widening the Eastern Freeway and constructing a six-kilometre tunnel.

The $200 million early-works package, for which contracts are expected to be signed towards the end of 2019 and works commence in 2020, will be followed by the $7-9 billion primary package that will involve the construction of the tunnels. The procurement process will take more than 18 months.

The government estimates “the missing link between the Eastern Freeway and the M80 Ring Road” will provide a boost for freight productivity and ease congestion, providing an outlet for 15,000 trucks and cutting travel times by up to 30 minutes.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) welcomed the government’s re-election, saying it endorses several infrastructure initiatives, including the “sense of urgency on North East Link” and funding for training new heavy vehicle drivers.

“The Andrews Labor Government has listened to the needs of the freight industry, as evidenced by the North East Link being prioritised over other road projects, as well as the $4 million in funding the Government has earmarked for training new heavy vehicle drivers over the next four years, which will help to address driver shortages that are impacting transport operators,” VTA CEO Peter Anderson says.


Andrews pledges $4 million for truck driver training. Read more, here


“Putting the North East Link out to market is another important step in finally completing the Ring Road.

“The connection is vital for not only freight operators travelling between the Eastern Freeway and the Hume Freeway, but for the entire road network because it will ease congestion elsewhere and give commuters and transport companies alternatives that have previously been lacking.

“With the West Gate Tunnel under construction, significant regional road improvements underway and the North East Link about to happen, it is encouraging that Victoria is finally getting the road infrastructure we need to sustain our growing economy.”

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia CEO Adrian Dwyer echoed the sentiment.

“The scale of the infrastructure challenge on the east coast is unprecedented, so it was pleasing to see a firm commitment to keystone projects and funding reform from both parties during this election.

“With Labor returning to Government, transformative projects like the $15.8 billion North East Link can now head to market.”

Roads Australia says the announcement marks a major milestone in the delivery of Victoria’s infrastructure pipeline.

“Our members have been marshalling resources in expectation of these packages coming to market, and will welcome the Government’s decisive action on the heels of Saturday’s election result,” Roads Australia president David Stuart-Watt says.

“The infrastructure pipeline has never been so hot and there is now a big task ahead to ensure we have the right people on the right projects with the right skills.

“We welcome yesterday’s announcement of an additional 800 places to continue heavy vehicle driver training and education programs.

 “The Victorian Government has been at the forefront of social procurement and diversity policies and programs aimed at providing greater training and employment opportunities for women, indigenous, long-term unemployed and disabled Victorians.”

Construction zone speed limits

As part of his statement, Stuart-Watt spoke of the “need to make sure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible during the construction boom”.

“That’s why we will work with the Andrews Government and our partners in the construction industry to make sure speed limits through construction zones are lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.”

That message was also heeded, with Andrews announcing a new rule around speed limits around empty worksites.

“I know how frustrating it is to slow right down for roadworks – only to drive past an empty work site,” he says on his Facebook page.

“So we’re making a new rule. When tools go down, speeds come back up – when it’s safe to do so.

“It’ll be safer for workers, too. No more chancing it because a site ‘looks quiet’.

“And we’ll write it in to every contract, with penalties to make sure it happens.

We’re upgrading road and rail across the state, so there will be disruption – I won’t pretend otherwise. But hopefully this will help a little bit.”

 

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