NSW Government confirms funding strategy to deliver WestConnex
The NSW Government has confirmed it will pursue the sale of a 51 per cent stake in Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) to help fund the final stage of WestConnex.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said this week the Government’s sale strategy was informed by extensive market sounding and analysis by NSW Treasury, and would ensure a competitive tender process that will deliver the best value for the people of NSW.
“WestConnex is Australia’s largest infrastructure project – it will do for western Sydney what the Sydney Harbour Bridge did for the North Shore 85 years ago, and this is our plan to make it a reality,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Selling a 51 per cent stake in SMC will unlock existing value to help fund the M4-M5 Link project, getting it built sooner, but it also means the people of NSW will continue to benefit from the growth in the value of the Government’s ongoing shareholding.“
In the coming months, the Government will formally launch a competitive process with a call for parties to register their interest in the sale.
The transaction will not affect the WestConnex tolling plan announced in 2013.
Minister for WestConnex, Stuart Ayres, said the motorway project formed part of an infrastructure pipeline that created jobs and drives economic growth.
“The first section of WestConnex – the widened New M4 – is already open, tunnelling is progressing at pace on both the New M4 and New M5 tunnels and planning is well underway for the M4-M5 Link,” Mr Ayres said.
“We are building an integrated roads and transport system to make it easier for people to get around no matter where they live.”
Meantime, the Environmental Impact Statement for M4-M5 Link was released today. Feedback is invited at www.majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au by Monday 16 October, 2017.
Construction on the M4-M5 Link is expected to start in 2018 and finish in 2023.
Route for North East Link a step closer
The Victorian Government has this month unveiled the four potential corridor options for the North East Link.
The Government says the four possible corridors have been determined through extensive works spanning the entire north-east, including geo-technical investigations, traffic modelling, environment studies and discussions with community groups, businesses and local residents.
Each of the options identified begin at the Ring Road in Greensborough and connect to either the Eastern Freeway or EastLink, and all will involve tunnels, new surface roads and bridges.
- Corridor A – an 11-kilometre corridor that follows the Greensborough Highway south, using existing road reserve and connecting with the Eastern Freeway near Bulleen Road.
- Corridor B – a 24-kilometre corridor providing a direct connection from the M80 to EastLink. It would not require upgrades to the Eastern Freeway.
- Corridor C - similar to Corridor B, this 26-kilometre corridor would connect to EastLink and not require any upgrades to the Eastern Freeway.
- Corridor D - this 40 km corridor would connect with EastLink south of Ringwood and travel east using part of the proposed Healesville Freeway Reserve.
More information on each corridor, including maps, is available at northeastlink.vic.gov.au
The Government says each corridor has been assessed against a range of measures including key local concerns such as reducing congestion and getting trucks off residential roads, as well as the impact on urban areas and the environment.
The Government is expected to determine the preferred corridor by the end of the year.
The Victorian Budget 2017/18 provided the first $100 million for the North East Link to undertake design, planning and preconstruction works, ahead of contracts being signed in 2019 and construction commencing in 2020.
South East Queenslanders shape region’s future
The Queensland Government has this month released its South East Queensland Regional Plan (also known as ShapingSEQ), which includes a 50-year vision for the region’s future.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Jackie Trad, said the plan was prepared through extensive consultation with the region’s 12 councils, industry and the community.
“This unprecedented level of consultation over 15 months ensured we have a blueprint for the region – a blueprint for sustainable growth, global competitiveness and high-quality living,” Ms Trad said.
“The consultation resulted in a phenomenal contribution from the community with over 3300 submissions, more than 85 percent of these from private individuals.
“For the first time, we now have a plan for SEQ that includes a 50-year vision which looks to the region's longer-term future.
“This new plan shapes the way we will grow, prosper, connect, sustain and live, as the region grows to around 5.3 million people over the next 25 years.
“This growth will require approximately 950,000 new jobs and an almost 800,000 new dwellings across SEQ by 2041.
“Planning to accommodate and manage this growth required new thinking – a smarter approach, and a new focus on where and how we’ll live.
“There is a focus on affordable living and the way people interact with their community and the services around them.
“By 2041 our urban centres will be more connected and mixed use. Our communities will be more active, and the areas in which we live will provide more housing choice and diversity, including a broader range of 'missing middle' housing forms.”
Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chair, Cr Graham Quirk, welcomed the consultative approach by the Queensland Government in the development of the South East Queensland Regional Plan.
"Regional collaboration is one of the many strengths of South East Queensland, so it’s fitting to see the region’s councils and communities playing a strong role in this process,” Cr Quirk said.
Ms Trad said ShapingSEQ has also identified Regional Economic Clusters and region shaping infrastructure to support economic growth and to ensure SEQ has all the right ingredients to operate and compete globally and to provide for more local jobs.
“New communities that are well-located will also be delivered - and this will mean greater housing choice, smart infrastructure investment, and jobs through attracting investment.
“The Queensland Government is also establishing a South East Queensland Housing Supply Expert Panel to ensure that housing needs will keep pace with estimated growth, as part of a $5 million investment in land supply monitoring.”
View ShapingSEQ here.
IA seeks input for priority list
Infrastructure Australia is calling on Australian governments and industry leaders to identify infrastructure problems and opportunities of national significance as part of its 2018 Infrastructure Priority List (IPL) update.
The revised IPL is due for publication in February 2018 and is being updated to guide investment decisions across Australia's key infrastructure sectors.
“We are keen for states and territories and other partners to submit initiatives that solve the most pressing infrastructure problems facing our nation,” Infrastructure Australia CEO, Philip Davies said this week.
“The 2018 IPL will build on the current list, with new initiatives to reflect emerging infrastructure priorities across Australia, and updates to existing initiatives.
“We welcome submissions for all types of infrastructure, including programs of related works and programs for network optimisation.”
Infrastructure Australia is an independent statutory body with a mandate to prioritise and progress nationally significant infrastructure.
The submission period will close on 27 October 2017.
Proponents can make a submission via the IA website.
A bus stop outside your door: On Demand transport to trial in Sydney
Sydney commuters are set for even more choice with the launch of the first ever series of On Demand public transport trials.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, announced the trials this week, saying they would transform the daily commute for people across Sydney. “We have on demand movies, on demand food, and finally – NSW will have on demand transport,” Mr Constance said.
Eight pilots of On Demand Transport services in the North West, South West, West, Eastern Suburbs, Northern Beaches, Sutherland Shire and Central Coast will start from October and allow customers to book transport from or near their home to a local transport hub or other centres including local hospitals.
Key employment region Macquarie Park is part of the first tranche of On Demand pilots, with a service to transport workers living within 15 kilometres of the precinct starting in early 2018, with fares starting at $2.60. This service will be run by Keolis Downer and use a fleet of eight mini vans, six mini buses and one wheelchair accessible vehicle during weekday peaks and shoulders.
Each trial is unique and will have its own pricing scheme ranging from $2.60 to $5.60 for a standard trip. Customers will be able to book online, by phone or via an app.Transport for NSW will use data from the trials to plan future public transport improvements across all areas of Sydney.
All pilots in this trial will provide a standalone service that will not affect any existing local bus services.
Autonomous cars closer than we think, says NRMA
Australia's relationship with the car will change dramatically within the decade and the impact on the nation’s economy will be profound, according to the The Future of Car Ownership report released by the NRMA last week.
The report, which provides the NRMA's blueprint for the transformation of mobility in Australia over the next two decades, has highlighted that Level Five Automation, or cars without steering wheels, are likely to appear on Australian roads within eight years as the world’s automotive manufacturers fast-track the new technology.
The Future of Car Ownership highlights that Level Three Automation (Conditional Automation) will be available next year when the Audi A8 enters the market. This enables the car to undertake most operational tasks itself, such as steering and braking, with human oversight.
While considerable global attention has been given to the work undertaken by industry disruptors such as Google and Tesla, the NRMA report highlights that investment by traditional car brands, often in partnership with technology companies, are fast-tracking the arrival of autonomous vehicles.
Ambitious targets set by car manufacturers has led to the NRMA to forecast the appearance of Level Four Automation, whereby the driver is only required to interact with the car to take over controls in certain situations, will begin appearing in Australia within three years.
Some Level Four vehicles such as the Navya Arma and Easymile EZ10 Driverless Shuttle are already being trialled in Australia and in overseas locations.
Full automation (Level Five) technology – a car without a steering wheel – will be available from 2025, with the likes of Daimler-Bosch, VW, Intel and Continental committing to this timeframe.
Building on the popularity of new mobility services like Uber and GoGet, the report states that as autonomous vehicles become more prolific, Australian households will own fewer cars. Instead, households may opt for subscription-based transport services allowing people to tailor their vehicle choice to the individual journey.
The Future of Car Ownership identified 10 key recommendations for Australian policymakers and industry. Key among them were:
- All levels of Government should facilitate autonomous vehicle trials and commence these trials as soon as possible
- Australian transport planners need to develop mobility policies for the future, which should include next generation smart infrastructure to service autonomous vehicles
- Specific legislation for autonomous vehicle trial and roll-out
- Private sector involvement in transport service delivery should be facilitated to provide smart mobility solutions to Australia’s growing urban centres
- The Australian Government should remove impediments to purchasing electric vehicles, such as the abolishment of the Luxury Car Tax for electric and hybrid vehicles.