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Make way! Billions of dollars of road upgrades underway in Australia

Australia’s federal and state governments are together spending billions of dollars on building roads around Australia to ease the movement of people and freight. (Photo: Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics ).

Australia’s federal government is committing to a series of rolling road infrastructure upgrades around Australia.

Mark Bowmer, director of communications at trade association Roads Australia, commented on the reasons for the road building programme.

“There’s a certain amount of catch-up on maintenance and investment. Partly it’s the expansion of the cities. We need to invest in transport infrastructure and we require integrated solutions. That’s the guts of it. The demand is there for people and freight,” Bowmer told FreightWaves.

Roads Australia President, David Stuart-Watt, said in a statement that Australia is still delivering infrastructure to growth areas that were established 10 to 20 years ago. He added that Australia must focus its thinking and planning on delivering “the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time,” to cope with future growth.

Install the last girder to go further

The most recent upgrade was the installation of the last girder of a new bridge over the Richmond River at Broadway, which is part of a 155 kilometre (96.4m) and A$4.3 billion (US$3.09 billion) upgrade to the Pacific Highway, which connects Sydney to Brisbane. The highway is part of network of roads that circle the Australian continent. About 81 percent of the Pacific Highway – which was an unsealed road until 1958 – has been upgraded to a four-lane divided road. About 129 km remains under construction.

The new Richmond River bridge, approximately 173 km south-by-east from the city of Brisbane, is the second-longest of 170 bridges on the Woolgoola to Ballina section of highway. The new bridge, which has had about 70 percent of the bridge deck installed, is due to open to traffic in 2020.

Meanwhile, the federal government has announced a A$100 million commitment to build a congestion-busting overpass at Linkfield Road in the north of Brisbane. The current road set-up merges two lanes into one. In addition to easing congestion, the duplication will also improve safety.

“We know the accident and near-miss rate at the northbound highway connection to the Gympie Arterial Road is a major issue,” said the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack.

Alice… and Barkly and Victoria and Stuart

Close to the geographic centre of Australia, near the town of Alice Springs, a series of upgrades are taking place to make life easier for drivers of heavy commercial vehicles. Intersection upgrades, new rest areas and truck parking bays are to be built for the Barkly, Victoria and Stuart Highways. A duplication project on the Stuart Highway will see two lanes in each direction being built along with dedicated turning lanes. This project is the eighth project to be delivered under the National Network Road Safety and Fatigue Management Initiative.

A near A$10 million package of safety upgrades has been completed in Outback Queensland near Gin Gin, 298 km north-north-west of Brisbane. The aim of the upgrades is to improve road conditions and traffic flow – specifically to prevent head on collisions. The works include the construction of a one-metre-wide centreline. The safety upgrade is part of a $114 million package to upgrade the Bruce Highway.

Again, in remote Queensland, about 527 km northwest-by-north from Brisbane, another major highway project is about to get underway. A A$75 million project to duplicate the Capricorn Highway has been announced. The funding will be issued from the $600 million Northern Australia Roads Program, set up to help improve the movement of freight and people. Local politician Flynn Ken O’Dowd said that the highway is Central Queensland’s principal east-west freight corridor. The project will widen the highway from two to four lanes over five kilometres and will allow for the setting of a 100 km-hour speed limit. Completion is expected to begin in mid-2019 and finish in mid 2020.

Building the highway in WA

Over in Western Australia, just outside the state capital of Perth, a A$28 million project is due to get underway around year’s end. A construction contract has been awarded to WBHO Infrastructure. The upgrade will create 14.7 km of new highway, including 3.7 km of dual carriageway from the town of Muchea to Chittering. The upgrade will connect to the NorthLink WA project, a A$1.02 billion road designed to improve freight capacity and reduce urban congestion. A road train assembly area will be built at Muchea too. The Muchea-Chittering upgrade is due to complete by February 2020.

And, finally, staying in WA, a A$12 mllion project is underway to replace two old bridges on the Highway at the town of Williams. The highway connects Perth to the regional town of Albany some 386 km south-south-east. Both Albany and Perth (Fremantle) have seaports. Approximately 4,500 vehicles use the bridges at Williams and 17 percent of those are heavy freight vehicles, according to a statement from the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office.

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Jim Wilson, Australia Correspondent

Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist, Jim Wilson, is the Australia Correspondent for FreightWaves. Since beginning his journalism career in 2000, Jim has primarily worked as a business reporter, editor, and manager for maritime publications in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. He has won several awards for logistics-related journalism and has had photography published in the global maritime press. Jim has also run publications focused on human resources management, workplace health and safety, venture capital, and law. He holds a degree in law and legal practice.
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