Friday, June 21, 2024

Murray Shire welcomes WA Govt rescue of heavy vehicle detour project

The Federal Government yesterday announced it will withdraw more than $300 million in promised funding from Western Australian transport projects following a review into the nation’s infrastructure pipeline.

Projects where funding has been withdrawn by the Federal Government include:

  • $200 million from the Pinjarra Heavy Haulage Deviation;
  • $48 million from the Marble Bar Road Upgrade;
  • $48 million from the Moorine Rock to Mt Holland Road Upgrades;
  • $6.4 million from the Great Southern Secondary Freight Network.

In response to the funding cuts, the WA Government today announced it remained committed to all projects.

“We are naturally disappointed with the outcomes of this review,” said Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti.

“We’re not immune from cost pressures – but the escalations being experienced here are significantly less than projects on the East Coast.

“We don’t have projects worth tens of billions of dollars like Inland Rail – which is now estimated to cost more than $30 billion, or the suburban rail loop in Melbourne – which is now expected to cost well in excess of $100 billion – even the North-South Road Corridor in Adelaide is now costing well over $16 billion.

“Our position has always been that we did not want to see any projects cut, and that our preference was to work cooperatively on smoothing the pipeline of projects, rather than cutting support entirely.

“We remain committed to these projects, and will now engage with key proponents to look at funding and delivery options.”

Several of the impacted projects involved an innovative cost share model between the State and Federal Governments and private sector.

Minister Saffioti said the road projects were helping to unlock key resource projects, and the withdrawal of funding may impact their delivery timelines.

The State Government will work with key proponents over the coming months to assess funding and delivery options for these projects, she said.

The Shire of Murray Council has welcomed from State Government’s recommitment to the Pinjarra Heavy Haulage Deviation project.

“We were incredibly disappointed by the announcement to cut the funding made by Infrastructure Minister Catherine King’s department after it had already been approved at both the Federal and State level,” said Shire of Murray President, David Bolt.

“Equally confusing was the statement the project did not demonstrate merit, lacked any national strategic rationale, or did not meet the Australian Government’s national investment priorities.

“As a major component linking the South West and Perth Airport via the South Western Highway, this project will provide significant improvements in safety and efficiency for trucks and road users, creating social and economic opportunities for the local community, broader South West Region and the State,” he said.

The project has been in the works for over a decade, initially raised as a priority by the community in the 1990s. In 2017, the Shire of Murray held a referendum to understand support for the deviation project. At that time, 84.6% of the community supported the deviation project. In 2018, $27.5 million funding was allocated from both the Australian and State Government to construct stage one of the project. This would have involved linking Greenlands Road to Pinjarra-Williams Road.

Due to the likely impact of increased traffic on South Western Highway and Pinjarra Williams Road, for Stage 1, the project was delayed. Subsequently, $250 million was obtained by Australian and State Governments to build a full deviation.

“With our population growing and traffic use continuously increasing, the issue is only getting worse with each passing year of delay. Last year, there were 795 heavy vehicle movements daily – up from 690 the year the referendum was held.”

“This project has been a priority for us for many years. I look forward, along with the rest of our community, to seeing further details of budget funding and hearing further about project delivery timeframes so there are no further delays to this vitally important piece of the State’s transport infrastructure,” said President Bolt.

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