While the effects of Australia’s economic downturn are being felt by businesses and communities, municipalities have been given much-needed funding for infrastructure upgrades that will help carry them through the difficult economic times.
The Federal Government has announced the projects that will receive a share of $290 million of funding under Round 5 of the Bridges Renewal Program (BRP) and Round 7 of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP).
The new rounds of funding will provide infrastructure upgrades in communities right across Australia to boost productivity, especially in regional areas. The initiatives will essentially allow local councils to fast-track long-awaited projects, significantly boosting local economies and generating jobs.
For the BRP, the Government has pledged $640 million from the 2015-2016 financial year to the 2022-2023 financial year. The BRP funds bridge upgrades and replacements (including replacements of timber bridges with more robust concrete structures) to enhance access for local communities and facilitate higher productivity vehicle access.
The HVSPP funds additional projects specifically designed to increase heavy vehicle productivity as well as road safety. This program will provide $508 million between the 2013-2014 financial year to the 2022-2023 financial year.
The two programs, while running separately, are mutually beneficial to improving traffic flow, reducing travel times and making roads easier to use and safer.
Under Round 5 of the BRP, 205 projects will be funded. The most expensive is the renewal of the Kerkin Road Bridge at Jacobs Creek in Queensland to link the Coomera Connector with key development areas (total project cost of $10.06 million).
HVSPP Round 7 will see 146 projects funded, including a major upgrade to the Oliver Avenue link road at Goonellabah in NSW. This will open up the Goonellabah industrial precinct and improve heavy vehicle movement.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, believes the funding will especially benefit local councils.
“With nearly 80 per cent of this funding going to local councils, the outcome of these rounds will support local workers, households and businesses through a difficult time and position the Australian economy for a strong recovery,” he says.
“By improving our road network, this funding will also help keep people safe on our roads while making key freight routes more efficient, delivering long-term benefits to drivers, businesses and local communities.”
The Government is yet to announce the dates for the opening of Round 6 of the BRP and Round 8 of the HVSPP.