NSW Budget colossal for roads

Sydney Helicopters Flight IMG_1757
In Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s day they used to call Queensland’s minister for everything Russ Hinze ‘the Colossus of Roads’.

Different state, different millennium. But New South Wales’ Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight and ex-truckie, Duncan Gay, might well pick-up that moniker thanks to the massive increase in funding for the state’s roads infrastructure in the Budget handed down by treasurer Gladys Berejiklian this week.

The NSW Budget includes a whopping headline figure of $7.5 billion for the state’s roads, maritime and freight infrastructure and services, a commitment Mr Gay has lauded as “historic.” He said this represents a $2 billion increase in annual funding over last year.

The National Roads and Motoring Association (NRMA) pegs the real spend at $6.7 billion, which it reckons to be a $1.3 billion increase in in capital expenditure compared to last year — still a record sum.

The highlights (many also with federal funding) include:

  • $1.7 billion to begin building Sydney’s WestConnex motorway from Parramatta to Sydney Airport, “Australia’s biggest infrastructure product.”
  • $1.4 billion to continue the duplication of the Pacific Highway to a four lane, divided road between Hexham and the Queensland border.
  • $326 million in roads grants for local government.
  • $275 million towards construction of the NorthConnex Motorway, with twin tunnels under Pennant Hills Road to connect the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the M2 Hills Motorway at West Pennant Hills.
  • $182 million to continue major upgrades on the Princes Highway, including construction of the Foxground and Berry bypass ($140 million), completing the Gerringong upgrade ($12 million) and realignment of the highway at Termeil Creek near Ulladulla ($12 million).
  • $167 million for continued road upgrades to support population and economic growth in Western Sydney.
  • $164 million to upgrade roads to help support Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek.
  • $87 million to continue upgrading the Great Western Highway between Emu Plains and Katoomba.
  • $69 million for upgrades to Central Coast roads.
  • $57 million for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
  • $42 million to start delivering major road upgrades to support the new Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest.
  • $36 million to progress planning and identification for future links on the Sydney motorway network.
  • $50 million for upgrades to Hunter roads.
  • $35 million for a series of key upgrades on the Newell Highway.
  • $23 million to improve the Bells Line of Road.
  • $17 million to complete planning and commence construction of major road upgrades in the Sydney Airport precinct.
  • $12 million for upgrades on the Oxley Highway.
  • $9.8 million to continue sealing the Cobb and Silver City highways.
  • $9 million towards construction of the Queanbeyan Ring Road.

The nation’s powerful peak lobby group for roads and drivers, the NRMA, is predictably ecstatic over the cash splash on new bitumen, but judiciously shared applause with a hearty thumbs-up for major new investment in rail.

The president of the NRMA, Kyle Loades, commended the spend saying it managed to address “the major infrastructure issues of both the city and the bush.”

“The state’s major country highways are sorely in need of the funding this budget provides,” Mr Loades said.

“The future of the state’s transport must be a combination of good roads and good public transport — we must do away with the argument that it lies with one at the expense of the other — that’s why the NRMA welcomes this Budget.”

With Julian Bajkowski

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