NSW budget commits to road and rail infrastructure

Record road, maritime and freight funding receives praise from transport industry

NSW budget commits to road and rail infrastructure
NSW roads minister Duncan Gay


State and industry bodies have welcomed the infrastructure focus in the NSW government’s 2015/16 budget, with a record $7.5 billion commitment to NSW roads, maritime and freight networks, in addition to ongoing funding for rail projects.

Headlining the NSW investment is $4.1 billion for regional projects, including $1.9 billion to fast track upgrades of the Pacific, Princes, Great Western, Newell, New England, Oxley, Mitchell, Kings, Central Coast, Silver City and Cobb regional highways.

The regional focus also includes $1.7 billion to aid the construction of the WestConnex motorway that will link Sydney’s west and south-west with the CBD and airport.

Roads minister Duncan Gay says the budget has committed an additional $2 billion to the overall annual investmet in roads and maritime and freight infrastructure, bringing the total outlay since 2011 to $27.5 billion.

"Not only are we well advanced in delivering the biggest infrastructure program in the state’s history, we’re also investing record levels – $1.5 billion this financial year alone – to repair and maintain existing road and maritime assets," Gay says.

Local councils will also have the opportunity to target specific needs, with $326 million to be on offer in the next two years.  

"Government initiatives such as Fixing Country Roads are starting to reverse decades of under-investment and neglect of council-owned roads and bridges," Gay says.

The news has been well received by the Australian Trucking Association’s local body, the ATANSW, with general manager Jodie Broadbent pointing to improved efficiency for the industry into the future.

"The NSW freight task is predicted to double by 2031," Broadbent says. "It’s essential that our roads and infrastructure are able to keep pace with this growth.

"We are delighted to see the Government prioritising funding for major freight routes, including $1.9 billion to continue fast-tracking major upgrades of key regional routes.

"Improving these routes provides economic and safety benefits to our regional communities, road users and the trucking industry."

While the bulk of the budget promises focus on projects already underway or announced, the state is also bringing forward about $590 million worth of spending from its privatisation of electricity "poles and wires" infrastructure.

Of that, $208.85 million has been allocated to road and transport projects in the next financial year.

"We committed to undertake a long-term lease of 49 per cent of the electricity network and deliver on our Rebuilding NSW commitment to invest $20 billion in new infrastructure," Premier Mike Baird says.

"These transactions won’t start taking place for many months, and we don’t have time to wait for the money to land, so that is why we are unlocking this funding early to get started."

The move, which plans to accelerate major infrastructure projects including the Sydney Metro project, has been applauded by the industrial sector.  Colliers International managing director for industrial work Malcolm Tyson says the sector will benefit from the wide range of infrastructure projects that will be worked on.

"The Enfield Intermodal, WestConnex motorway and the Moorebank Intermodal are all projects that will have a direct impact on the accessibility of Sydney’s growing south, south-west and western industrial suburbs," he says.

Also among those projects to receive accelerated funding are the Regional Road Freight Corridor project ($16.5 million), the Bridges for the Bush project ($7.35 million), the Rail Corridor Protection project ($1 million) and the Regional Growth Roads project ($1 million).

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