WA Budget delivers record road funding to reduce congestion and boost jobs
The new WA Labor Government has handed down its first Budget, committing to a record $2.7 billion spend on roads to reduce congestion and create new local jobs.
The 2017-18 State Budget, tabled last week, provides an injection of funding for 20 key road projects across the State, plus $1.34 billion over the next four years to start work on stage one METRONET priority projects.
Included among the projects are several of the key road initiatives announced in May 2017 as part of the State and Federal Government's $2.3 billion Boosting Jobs, Busting Congestion program, including:
- $237 million for the Armadale Road/North Lake Road bridge over Kwinana Freeway;
- $50 million for a new traffic interchange at Wanneroo Road and Joondalup Drive;
- $49 million for the widening of Kwinana Freeway northbound between Russell Road and Roe Highway;
- $70 million Reid Highway dual carriageway between Altone and West Swan roads; and
- $40 million to widen Mitchell Freeway southbound between Cedric and Vincent streets.
The Government will also provide $184 million in local government grants for road projects in 2017-18 across the State - $11.5 million more than it says was provided by the previous State government under the State Road Funds to Local Government Agreement than the previous financial year.
This comes on top of a $60 million contribution towards the Stephenson Avenue extension project in Stirling and $23 million for a dual carriageway of Marmion Avenue to Yanchep.
Click here for more 2017-18 State Budget information.
Road safety is Australia’s $29.7b car crash, says AAA
Australia’s peak motoring body has released a study showing road crashes cost the Australian economy almost $30 billion annually, and an accompanying list of federal policy interventions urgently needed to reduce deaths and injury.
Commissioned by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the new report, Cost of Road Trauma in Australia, quantifies for the first time in almost a decade, the annual economy-wide cost of road crashes. It shows the costs of road trauma, mainly in the form of loss of life and well-being, vehicle damage, and disability care, represent a $29.7 billion drag on the national economy.
The report also for the first time details the cost of road crashes to government in the form of lost taxation, income support, and health and emergency services costs, which equate to a $3.7 billion annual burden upon Australian government budgets.
AAA Chief Executive, Michael Bradley, says with more than 100 Australians killed in car crashes every month and the same number seriously injured every day, the significance of the problem cannot be over-stated.
“The social cost of road deaths is both obvious and immeasurable, however the economic implications of Australia’s road safety crisis are not," he says.
The numbers we’re releasing clearly demonstrate our current approach is neither effective nor proportionate, and that Australia needs an urgent response from our national government in the form of greater leadership and greater funding.”
The AAA has also released its National Road Safety Platform report to challenge the view that only state governments have a role to play in road safety. It identifies the federal levers able to address Australia’s worsening road safety crisis and recommends:
- improved data collection to identify the true extent and underlying causes of death and injury on Australia’s roads;
- the re-establishment of the National Office for Road Safety to support best practice research and driver education;
- the linking of federal road project funding to safety targets and project outcomes;
- developing advertising guidelines (via ACCC) to ensure consistent promotion of accurate vehicle safety ratings;
- reviewing data collected by first responders at crash scenes to ensure emerging trends, such as mobile phone use are understood and consistently reported across jurisdictions;
- removing tariffs and other car industry protectionism to ensure Australians have improved access to safer cars;
- coordinated education programs (focusing upon national issues such as older drivers, international drivers, driver distraction, and the promotion of safer vehicles & new vehicle technologies); and
- greater measurement and accountability relating to actions identified within the National Road Safety Strategy.
Australia’s National Road Safety Strategy, signed by all Australian governments in 2011, aims to reduce road deaths and injuries by at least 30 per cent by 2020.
However the number of road fatalities is largely unchanged since 2011, while Australia remains unable to accurately quantify serious road injuries.
The AAA campaigned for and welcomed the Government’s establishment of a national inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy, as announced in the 2017 Budget.
Click here for the AAA documents.
New Country bridges fast tracked with standard design
An innovative solution has been developed to build bridges faster and cheaper to replace the 660 timber structures in need of replacement across NSW.
A Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson said the number of aging bridges has been a major challenge for the NSW Government as it works to improve regional roads.
“It’s why the Country Bridge Solutions team at Roads and Maritime was given the task of developing a set of standardised, easy-to-build designs,@ the spokesperson said.
“The team worked closely with councils across the state and last December finalised a suite of technical manuals and drawings to fast track the replacement of bridges.
“The solution meets the needs of councils for a 100 year life and the design comes in one and two lane bridge designs with eight, 10 and 12 metre spans.
“This means the design, although it’s standardised, will suit different topographies, while providing more resilient bridge structures which can withstand weather events.”
The first structure built using the Country Bridge Solutions design was at Bookookoorara Creek in Tenterfield and was completed faster and cheaper.
“The bridge was built in five months, about two months quicker than similar design options, for $1.08 million which is below average cost for this type of structure.
“It’s pleasing to say another two bridges have now progressed to the design stage and others are in the early stages of assessment.”
For more information on the Country Bridges Solution, visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au.
Automated vehicle technologies deliver real results on EastLink
Trials conducted on EastLink to determine the compatibility of the latest automated vehicle technology has identified real opportunities to improve its compatibility with freeway infrastructure.
The trials are being undertaken by EastLink in partnership with VicRoads, the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), La Trobe University and RACV, and with the assistance of major vehicle manufacturers.
The trials have so far revealed the importance of:
- good quality line markings – including reflectivity and luminosity – on both sides of the lane to avoid “drop outs” of the lane-keeping assist function, and to help a vehicle maintain its position centrally in the lane;
- minimising gaps in contiguous line markings, as this may lead to drop outs of the lane-keeping assist function or unintentional lateral movement;
- in construction zones, avoiding the use of temporary yellow line markings with white line markings - again because it is incompatible with the lane-keeping assist function, causing drop outs;
- consistency of speed signage (format and placement) and maintaining line of sight visibility;
- locating speed signs on freeway exit ramps or side roads well away from the main carriageway, so as not to confused with main carriageway signs;
- avoiding conflicting or confusing speed signs, as vehicles find it very difficult to determine the correct speed limit under these circumstances.
The trials have also found that overhead variable speed and lane control signs, which are an increasingly common format on Melbourne’s freeways, are not yet read reliably by vehicles.
Vehicle manufacturers and freeway operators are now able to work on taking advantage of these opportunities to further improve the performance of the latest Level 2 (partial automation) vehicle technologies, which will pave the way for Level 3 (hands-off-the-wheel driving) on EastLink and other suitable freeways (subject to legislative changes).
Streamlining Hoddle Street to keep traffic moving
The Victorian Government has released new designs of major intersections and 24/7 clearways to cut traffic jams, reduce delays and improve travel times on Hoddle Street and Punt Road.
Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan announced the initiatives today, which will improve traffic flow, boost reliability and deliver longer green lights on Victoria’s busiest arterial road.
The Government is proposing 24/7 clearways along the length of Hoddle Street, ending the frustration of getting stuck behind a parked car on the busy arterial road.
The move builds on the success of clearways introduced last year along Punt Road, from Alexandra Avenue to Union Street, which have halved travel times on weekends and reduced the delays outside of peak times.
Intersection upgrades at Swan Street, Johnston Street and Brunton Avenue will give more time on each green light – cutting average queue lengths from 340 metres to less than 100 metres.
The changes are expected to take five minutes off average travel times during the evening peak along Hoddle Street, and almost three minutes in the morning peak.
Commuters on the DART bus service are also in for significant time savings and increased reliability with a free flowing journey off the Eastern Freeway exit ramp and a dedicated bus lane all day, all the way to Victoria Street.
The changes will cut travel time in half for tram passengers on Route 70 travelling down Swan Street to AAMI Park or Rod Laver Arena.
There’ll also be safer bus and tram stops, separated cycling lanes and significant improvements for pedestrians walking from Richmond Station to the MCG, AAMI Park and other landmarks in the iconic sporting precinct.
Consultation on planned clearways is now underway with local residents and businesses. Construction expected to start at the northern end of the corridor by the end of the year.
GFG Alliance completes landmark acquisition of Arrium
Global metals, industrials and energy group, the GFG Alliance, has completed its acquisition of Arrium OneSteel, creating a new future for thousands of workers and their communities across Australia.
The former Arrium mining and port operations have been rebranded as SIMEC Mining and SIMEC Infrastructure divisions respectively, while OneSteel and its operating divisions will become Liberty OneSteel. ARC, Austube Mills and product brands such as Cyclone and Waratah will remain unchanged.
Executive Chairman of the GFG Alliance, Sanjeev Gupta, and his team, working closely with management and the workforce, will now embark on a 100-day review of the business and finalise a transformation plan to put the 6,000-worker enterprise, on a competitive, sustainable footing.
This will include finalisation of plans for major capital investments across several sites, utilisation of excess production capacity, reduction in raw material costs, greater energy efficiency, the development of new high value-added steel and steel-based products and services for the Australian market and increasing export of iron ore and steel products.
Speaking last month ahead of the September 1 formal handover event at the iconic Whyalla integrated plant in South Australia, Mr Gupta said the GFG Alliance and OneSteel’s highly-skilled and committed workforce would now work together to be the authors of an exciting new chapter in the Australian steel industry.
“As we now focus on our plans for investment and growth, we have every reason to be confident that this business shall increase its already significant role in supporting the construction of Australia’s future,” he said.
Mr Gupta outlined some key elements of GFG’s intended transformation plan to expand the capability and capacity of its new Australian businesses, including:
Investing up to US$1 billion across the Whyalla steelworks and mining businesses to:
- modernise key parts of the plant
- expand steel-making capacity
- expand the range of steel grades and downstream products produced;
- improve energy generation capabilities, including a new co-generation power plant to capture and reuse waste gases, generating on-site captive power.
- Boost capacity utilisation at the world-class electric arc furnaces and rolling mills in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle.
- Align, improve, and expand production and service capabilities to capitalise fully on the significant infrastructure project growth in Australia.
In addition, the GFG Alliance is also exploring further potential investments in Australia, including:
- A new state-of-the-art, world class steel plant of four to five million tonnes at Whyalla.
- Major port and infrastructure development.
- Complementary mining activities, including iron ore and coking coal, to ensure raw material supply at stable prices.
- New electric arc furnace capacity to melt more of Australia’s ferrous scrap at home, focused on excess scrap generating regions, pursuing GFG Alliance's globally renowned GREENSTEEL strategy, creating long-term sustainable value and jobs.
- New large-scale pumped hydro and solar power plants to assist in addressing Australia’s energy imbalance and high energy costs.
The acquisition of the former Arrium businesses, which employ around 6,000 people, builds upon the GFG Alliance’s strong track record of acquisitions and turnarounds in the UK where it is now one of the country’s largest industrial employers with more than 5,000 staff in its Liberty House and SIMEC groups.