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Pacific Highway duplication headlines recent roads moves

NSW, Queensland and WA see recent upgrade announcements


A wave of new works, completions and funding to freight-relevant roads has been announced ahead of Christmas.

The completed upgrade of the Pacific Highway is one of the key projects and has been lauded by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

The duplication will save lives, especially as traffic increases ahead of the Christmas holiday period, ATA chair David Smith says. 

He notes today’s official celebration of the upgrade completion marks a project of great significance to the trucking industry and every road user.  

“The completion of the Pacific Highway duplication is an important moment for Australia and road safety,” Smith says.  

“It’s important for Australia because it’s a key freight route. It is the second busiest interstate road freight corridor in Australia

“The safety importance of the upgrade is highlighted by the tragic Grafton truck and bus crash, which occurred on 20 October 1989. A semitrailer veered into oncoming traffic and hit a bus on the highway near Grafton. Twenty-one people died and 22 more were injured – the worst crash in Australian road transport history at the time. 

“A key recommendation out of the coronial inquiry into the crash was to duplicate the highway. 

“The Australian Trucking Association was also established in response to the tragedy.

“The completion of the upgrade is an enormous win for our industry and every road user, and we are so thankful that after so many years of strong bipartisan government commitment, we have finally seen the completed duplication.  

“The completion of the duplication upgrade has come in good timing, as traffic ramps up with motorists hitting the road to visit loved ones or take a well-earned break during the holidays.”

It follows the recent announcement that the Coffs Harbour bypass has been given the official green light by the Federal Government after the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley assessed and then approved the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation EPBC Act.

It will move the northern New South Wales city’s biggest ever infrastructure project a step closer to construction.

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack says the 14-kilometre bypass, which received official planning approval, is one of the 15 major projects that the Federal Government committed to fast-tracking in June 2020.

“The bypass is going to take more than 12,000 vehicles a day out of the centre of Coffs Harbour, reduce travel times by as much as 12 minutes by bypassing 12 sets of traffic lights, and improve safety for all road users,” McCormack says.

“Transport for NSW has now received the final stamp of approval, after close scrutiny by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and the Australian Minister for the Environment.

“This approval includes the proposed tunnels at Roberts Hill, Shephards Lane and Gatelys Road, as well as assessing the project for its social, environmental, heritage and economic impacts, and gives the project team the green light to go ahead with major work.”

The project is expected to take around five years to build.

How the Pacific Highway also received a freight mass limits boost, here

Meanwhile, In Western Australia, the federal and state governments continue to link on the Targeted Road Safety Program, where an initial $100 million partnership was established earlier this year to upgrade 1,400 kilometres of regional roads across the state. 

These works are already underway and are expected to be complete by mid-2021.

Building on the success of this first tranche of targeted road safety upgrades, $284 million has been notionally allocated by Canberra under the $2 billion Road Safety Program, with a further $71 million provided by the state government. 

The works expected to be rolled out by mid-2022 include sealing existing unsealed road shoulders and installing audible edge lines to alert drivers who have left the travel lane. 

These treatments have been shown to reduce the number of single vehicle ‘run off road’ crashes and modelling indicates the potential to reduce road trauma by up to 60 per cent.

Further information on the roads to be upgraded through the program will be announced shortly. 

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said these programs would roll out lifesaving treatments on up to 7,000 kilometres of roads in total across regional Western Australia.

 “As the economy rebuilds we have more people getting back to business and work, as well as people choosing to ‘Wander out Yonder’ in our beautiful state, it’s important we make sure our roads are safe for all users,” McGowan says.

“This unprecedented amount of funding will support local jobs and provide a much needed economic boost to the regions.”

Western Australian Transport Minister Rita Saffioti says there was now up to $455 million to upgrade regional roads all across the State over the next two years.

“Up to 7,000 kilometres of regional roads will now be scheduled for the roll out of these much needed treatments with works to be completed by mid-2022,” Saffioti says.

“Our Government was instrumental in getting this program on the national agenda and I want to thank the Commonwealth Government for their contribution.”

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz says regional roads were vital to the economy-shaping work of the state’s freight fleet. 

“From the State’s world-class wool to the thriving iron-ore exports, local truckies work hard travelling the regional road network to keep the economy ticking and businesses running by getting goods to markets,” Buchholz says.

“By funding road safety programs like this, we are continuing to support their economy-shaping work while ensuring they make it home safe at the end of each trip – nothing’s more important than that.”

Further, almost $20 million has been allocated through the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network (WSFN) program to upgrade 95 kilometres of regional roads in Western Australia throughout 2020-21.

The $187.5 million jointly funded program was established earlier this year to increase freight efficiency and productivity, reduce vehicle-operating cost and improve road safety along strategic freight routes within the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

The program aims to upgrade 53 strategic routes throughout the Wheatbelt to help lower freight input costs to agricultural production and increase Australia’s international competitiveness in agricultural markets.

The WSFN was part of the Australian Government’s $4.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative.

“These upgrades will better connect businesses to domestic and international markets via Western Australia’s key ports, improving freight productivity and offering greater opportunities for business growth in the Wheatbelt region,” McCormack says.

“While the focus is to assist the agricultural sector by providing better connections between agricultural regions and ports, the program will also improve access for tourism, mining and other sectors, delivering social, economic and employment benefits for all local communities.”

 Saffioti says these projects will create local jobs while also improving safety and efficiency.

 “More than 95 kilometres of Wheatbelt roads will be prioritised for upgrading this year through this second tranche of funding, improving the Wheatbelt’s crucial transport supply chains and assisting this key agricultural area to grow,” Saffioti says.

“This investment complements our recently released Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy which highlighted priority transport projects across the Wheatbelt region, as well as the WA Government’s work in developing an Infrastructure Australia business case to support further future investment in WA Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements.

“That business case will consider upgrades to Tier 1, 2 and 3 freight rail infrastructure, as well as the primary and secondary road freight network.”

 Federal Member for Pearce Christian Porter says the WSFN was a vital part of Western Australia’s economic success.

 “The WSFN comprises approximately 4,400 kilometres of road, with around 2,850 kilometres along the 53 strategic freight routes identified and prioritised for upgrading,” Porter says.

“The majority of these WSFN roads used by freight vehicles are unsuited to high volumes of heavy vehicle traffic. The Australian Government is recognising the importance of this road network by funding these upgrade works.” 

Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson says making transportation hubs easier to reach would have a huge impact on the agricultural sector. 

“These projects are expected to increase freight efficiency and productivity, reduce vehicle operating costs and improve road safety along key freight routes within the Wheatbelt region,” Wilson says.

“This is the kind of investment that will really drive growth in our key industries and ensure our truckies can transport Western Australian agricultural products quickly and safely.”

Totalling $19.46 million and funded by the Australian ($15.56m), State ($2.59m) and local ($1.31m) governments, this second tranche of road upgrades delivered in 2020/2021 will include: 

  • Shire of Dandaragan – Jurien East Road – Reconstruct and widen 9.9 kilometres of existing road – $2.20m
  • Shire of Dandaragan – Watheroo Road – Install 39.37 kilometres of white lining – $0.11m
  • Shire of Moora – Watheroo West Road – Reconstruct and widen 4 kilometres of existing road – $1.0m
  • Shire of Dalwallinu – Bell Road – Reconstruct and widen 6 kilometres of existing road – $1.38m
  • Shire of Gingin – Orange Springs Road – Reconstruct and widen 7.66 kilometres of existing road $3.91m
  • Shire of Victoria Plains – Mogumber-Yarawindah Road – Reconstruct and widen 5.19 kilometres of existing road – $0.89m
  • Shire of Goomalling – Goomalling-Calingiri Road – Reconstruct and widen 3.45 kilometres of existing road – $1.37m
  • Shire of Goomalling – Goomalling-Calingiri Road – Replace and widen existing culvert – $0.15m
  • Shire of Cunderdin – Meckering-Goomalling Road – Reconstruct and widen 6.06 kilometres of existing road – $1.38m
  • Shire of Quairading – Cunderdin-Quairading Road – Reconstruct and widen 4.92 kilometres of existing road – $0.31m
  • Shire of Merredin – Merredin-Narembeen Road – Reconstruct and widen 6.88 kilometres of existing road – $1.58m
  • Shire of Narembeen – Merredin-Narembeen Road – Reconstruct and widen 6.7 kilometres of existing road – $2.19m 

In Queensland, works have started on the $4 million Murphys Creek Road and Brookside Place intersection upgrade at Postmans Ridge, bolstering freight movement through the Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba.

The upgrade will realign the intersection to favour the B-double route, add a dedicated right-turn lane into Brookside Place and improve sight distance.

McCormack notes the upgrade will complement the completed $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC).

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey says continuing to invest in better freight connectivity in the region was crucial to supporting jobs in the region and helping its $13.86 billion economy to recover and grow into the future.

“Truck drivers played a critical role in keeping Queensland’s economy moving through COVID-19 – keeping our supermarket shelves stocked and world-class products moving,” Bailey says.

“The efforts of truck drivers and Queenslanders as a whole to help manage the health impacts of the global virus has meant we’ve been able to get on with creating jobs in construction through projects like the $10 million James Street culvert upgrades and now this upgrade at Postmans Ridge.”

The TSRC cut across the old Postmans Ridge Road, which created the cul-de-sac known as Brookside Place.

Westbound Murphys Creek Road traffic will no longer have to give way, which will improve efficiency for both residents and freight operators.

Queensland Assistant Minister for Regional Roads Bruce Saunders said as the link between the Warrego Highway, New England Highway and Murphys Creek Road would provide an alternative route for heavy vehicles if there were any Toowoomba Range closures.

“Better roads get our truck drivers home safer, our products to markets across Australia and the globe and stimulate jobs, which is why we’ve also injected another $1 billion in joint stimulus funding since April to upgrade roads right across the region and the state,” Saunders says.

Works are expected to be complete by late April 2021, weather and construction conditions permitting.

There will be traffic impacts during this time with a potential temporary closure of the intersection, detouring westbound traffic via Postmans Ridge Road.

Finally, the Isis Highway will also see works begin on a westbound overtaking lane between Bundaberg and Childers.

Some $42.5 million has already been locked in by the Queensland Government to improve safety on the highway, as well as works already underway at the Broadway Drive intersection at Branyan.

“Thousands of truck drivers, families and businesses rely on the Isis and Bruce Highways every day, which is why we’re delivering $20 million in Bruce upgrades north of Childers, more than $40 million to improve safety on the Isis Highway and now new overtaking lanes,” Bailey says.

The westbound overtaking lane, between Park Estate Drive intersection and Wyper Park Scout Camp access road, will improve traffic flow leaving Bundaberg, while a dedicated, right-turn lane will also be added at the Scout Camp access road.

State Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith says the new overtaking lanes will play an important role in bolstering the route for freight, tourist and commuter traffic.

Minor work will start before Christmas, with roadworks ramping up in January 2021.

The project is jointly funded under the Australian Government’s Roads of Strategic Importance initiative (ROSI).

The Australian government has committed $4 million and the Queensland government $1 million.


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