Our response to the Federal Budget

Truck drives on outback road
Truck drives on outback road

The Federal Budget will see a $6.7 billion investment in Australia’s transport infrastructure, including $2.1 billion for NSW and ACT roads. We’ve taken a closer look at the projects that are planned, and why.

The Australian Government’s commitment of $6.7 billion (FY18: $7.8 billion) on transport includes $5.9 billion on roads. Revenue collected from motorists through the Fuel Excise will increase by $460 million to $17.3 billion. This year, 15.7 cents of out the 40.9 cents per litre petrol tax (38.3%) will be reinvested back in roads.

The Australian Government has committed to a number of crucial projects in this Budget, including:

- Almost $1 billion ($971 million) on the Coffs Harbour bypass

- $400 million for the Port Botany Rail Duplication

- $100 million to upgrade both the Monaro and Barton highways

- $155 million for the Shoalhaven River Bridge

- $45 million in funding for regional tourism infrastructure projects

NRMA Group CEO Rohan Lund said this year’s Budget would help ease congestion by improving roads and public transport in Australia’s cities while helping to make regional highways safer.

“As one of Australia’s largest tourism and transport providers the NRMA, which represents 2.6 million Members, is focused on programs that help get people to where they are going easier and safer, boosts local economies and unlocks our great destinations,” Mr Lund said.

“This Budget will see funding go towards some important projects aimed at reducing congestion in cities, improving the delivery of goods and services and making regional highways safer, which will be of significant benefit to our business Members who are out on the road as part of their day to day business.”

Barton Highway corridor

The Barton Highway is an important link between regional NSW and the ACT. This $100 million upgrade will improve journey reliability, ease congestion, improve driver safety and boost freight productivity by connecting our major agricultural and resource areas with our cities. That means it also provides broader benefits to regional Australia by supporting the tourism industry.

Perhaps the most important role the ongoing upgrades will have is effecting the lives lost on our roads.

“The 2017 road toll in NSW was horrific and with two-thirds of fatalities occurring outside major cities, improving regional roads is vital in saving lives.” Mr Lund said.

Monaro Highway Upgrade

The $100 million project will reduce congestion and improve the safety of the highway. A study is also currently being investigated to widen of the Monaro Highway.

Shoalhaven River Bridge

This $155 million project is being developed to improve conditions on the Princes Highway over the Shoalhaven River in Nowra.

Investigations by the RMS this year identified some key issues with the current crossing of the Shoalhaven River at Nowra:

1. Increasing maintenance difficulties with the old Nowra Bridge

2. Increasing congestion issues in peak times from local traffic

3. Some large and heavy trucks cannot use the old Nowra Bridge

4. High risk of damage and closure of the old Nowra Bridge from an impact by an over height vehicle

5. Increased demand and future traffic growth

6. Higher than state average annual crash rates on the Princes Highway leading up to the bridge.

Around 50,000 vehicles cross the Shoalhaven River on an average day. Any extensive closures of the iron truss bridge due to maintenance or emergency repairs would cause major delays to the network around Nowra. The planning investigation has made it clear that the project should focus on a new bridge that could address these key issues.

"This Budget goes some way to delivering but clearly more needs to be done." Mr Lund said with the amount of fuel excise raised increasing by $460 million this year, the NRMA would campaign to see more invested in roads and transport.

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