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Roads Australia Insider - 26 June 2020


Infrastructure funding boost an opportunity to seal road shoulders in the bush, says RA

Roads Australia has welcomed last week’s Federal funding package for ‘shovel-ready’ and priority road safety projects, followed this week by more detailed announcements on how the money will be spent.

The Prime Minister announced a $1.5 billion funding package for small, shovel-ready projects, $500 million of which was partitioned for road safety works.

RA President Michael Bushby said the funding created an opportunity for states and territories to tackle one of the biggest regional road challenges - single-vehicle lane departure crashes.

“Despite making up only 16.5 per cent of the nation’s population, regional Australia accounts for two out of three road deaths,” Mr Bushby said.

“RA has been pushing for increased Federal funding for low-cost road safety treatments, such as shoulder sealing and the installation of audible edge lines, for some time.

“It’s been shown that these relatively inexpensive fixes can reduce the risk of single-vehicle lane departure crashes – that is, drivers running off the road or into oncoming traffic - by up to two-thirds in parts of regional Australia.”

This week the Federal Government and its state and territory partners provided more detail of exactly how the money will be spent.

  • Tasmania - $34.3m in Federal funding for nine projects ($11.7m in State funding).
  • ACT - $17.6 million in Federal funding, matched dollar-for-dollar by the ACT Government, for six projects.
  • NT - $40.4 million in Federal funding and $12.7 million from the Territory for 10 projects.
  • QLD - $324.3 million from the Commonwealth and $90.3 million from the Queensland Government for 14 projects.
  • SA - $115.6 million in Federal funding and $28.9 in State funding for 13 projects.
  • WA - $176 million from the Commonwealth and $47 million from the WA Government for a range of projects. This includes $100 million (on an 80:20 split) for a Regional Road Safety Improvement Program that will see around 1,400 kilometres of roads treated, with shoulder sealing and audible edge lines being installed in every region of WA. Tasmania - $34.3m in Federal funding for nine projects ($11.7m in State funding).

At the time of writing, announcements were pending for NSW and Victoria.

Roads Australia is hosting a workshop of government and industry leaders on 8 July to discuss priorities for regional road safety improvements that deliver high returns relative to their cost.

Mr Bushby said the issue was part of a much larger discussion about road maintenance funding, and the urgent need to invest in maintenance and other works to ensure networks remained available and resilient.

Infrastructure Australia recognised the need for a national strategy on road maintenance as a High Priority Initiative in its latest Infrastructure Priority List, released in February.

Mr Bushby also welcomed the focus in the funding annoucements on providing opportunities for smaller contractors and suppliers.

“It’s great to get on with the mega projects, but we also need to support the medium and small-sized road projects that tier 2 and 3 contractors and their suppliers rely on,” he said.

“Many smaller contractors aren’t sharing in the rewards of Australia’s transport infrastructure boom, and there is capacity available to progress these smaller projects.”


Businesses seek advice in response to COVID-19

Three in five Australian businesses have sought external advice in response to COVID-19, according to the latest results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey on the business impacts of the pandemic.

The survey finds that businesses are most likely to seek advice about government support measures (86 per cent) and regulation and compliance (75 per cent).

Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of all businesses have introduced new hygiene protocols and practices, and 57 per cent made changes to meet physical distancing requirements.

The latest ABS release also includes information about how business revenue has changed, with two-thirds of businesses reporting a decrease compared to last year. Of these, more than three in 10 estimate revenue has fallen by more than 50 per cent.


Shortlist announced for fast-tracked Mitchell Freeway upgrade

In WA, three consortia have been shortlisted to design and construct a third lane on the Mitchell Freeway southbound, from Hodges Drive to Hepburn Avenue.

The contractors shortlisted for the $76 million project are:

  • H2H comprising WBHO Infrastructure and NRW Contracting;
  • Highways Construction; and
  • Mitchell Southbound JV comprising BMD Constructions and Georgiou Group.

It is anticipated a contract will be awarded in late October, allowing construction to commence at the end of 2020.

The project will include construction of a third 8.8 kilometre freeway traffic lane adjacent to the rail line, along with a new concrete barrier to improve safety along the railway, between Hepburn Avenue and Reid Highway.

It will also include modifications to freeway entry ramps to enable future ramp signalling at Hodges Drive and Hepburn Avenue.

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