Councils have firmly backed the federal government’s commitment to build the long-awaited Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Railway because of potential big savings in road maintenance that could result from the freight line.
The strong support for the $300 million commitment from Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss comes as the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) hitched its wagon to the new track build because the railway could spare cash strapped councils the burden of repairing roads ripped up by heavy trucks.
The major investment from the federal government was announced by Mr Truss announced on 7th March, 2014 as part of the larger $35.5 billion commitment to upgrade Australia’s critical infrastructure.
The announcement also included a $6.7 billion upgrade of Queensland’s flood prone Bruce Highway.
According to Mr Truss, the Inland Railway project that has “been talked about for decades” will be a critical investment in jobs, growth and the nation’s future prosperity, “especially for the regional areas along, and around, its route”.
“It will be a game changer for how we move freight through New South Wales, Victoria and Southern Queensland, while linking to the existing national network to move freight around the nation,” Mr Truss said.
As the Inland Rail is to commence its pre-construction works, ALGA expects the project to reduce the “adverse effects on local road networks by freight vehicles.
The damage inflicted on local roads by heavy commercial freight vehicles has resulted in an accumulation of potholes and bumpy bridges that have become part of a deep and expensive backlog of public works projects that cash-strapped councils are struggling to address.
These problems were recently talked about at the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in November 2013 in Alice Springs, when the 2013 National State of the Assets Report revealed a total backlog figure of $11.6 billion in unaddressed road works.
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