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AusLink Delivers $441.7 million for Tasmania

Minister for Transport and Regional Services - Warren Truss
008TRS/Budget 9 May 2006

The Australian Government has increased to $441.7 million its land transport funding to Tasmania over the first five years of AusLink, the National Land Transport Plan.

This includes the provision tonight of an additional $60.0 million to Tasmania in 2005-06 to enable upgrading works along the East Tamar Highway. The project will be targeted for completion by the end of 2009.

Of the $441.7 million, $194.3 million is directed to major land transport construction projects - an increase of 121.2 per cent compared with the preceding five years. The remainder is for AusLink Network maintenance, local road upgrades, elimination of crash 'black spots' and research and development.

Overall, AusLink will deliver $77.3 million to Tasmania for spending on land transport infrastructure in 2006-07.

2006-07 funding under the AusLink Investment Programme

The Australian Government will spend $26.6 million in 2006-07 on AusLink Investment Programme projects in Tasmania, including:

  • $2.0 million which is currently allocated towards building a new Bridgewater Bridge downstream from the existing structure, unless the Australian Government agrees to a new northern approaches project;
  • $18.0 million towards duplication of the last 5.5 km of the Bass Highway between Penguin and Ulverstone in the state's North-West. Work will start in August and is expected to be completed by 2007-08; and
  • $5.9 million to maintain the Midland, Bass and East Tamar Highways in good condition throughout the year.

The Australian Government Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss, and the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, outlined the expanded AusLink Budget funding package for Tasmania today.

"Transport is critical to the Tasmanian economy. The Budget maintains the momentum of spending to support industry, growth and diversification, while laying the groundwork for a more focussed, strategic direction for AusLink," Mr Truss said.

"The Government is maintaining its funding allocation for a new Bridgewater Bridge, while allowing the Tasmanian Government to bring forward an alternative proposal for the northern approaches to Hobart, which we will consider.

"Tonight's Budget also keeps open the Australian Government's offer of a $78.0 million rescue package for the Tasmanian rail system, subject to the State Government and Pacific National agreeing to the terms of the offer made last December," he said.

Mr Truss said the $60.0 million for the East Tamar Highway in 2005-06, to be spent in subsequent years, would provide quality transport infrastructure supporting expansion of the port and heavy industry at Bell Bay.

"Tonight we also continue funding towards completing the duplication of the Bass Highway between Devonport and Burnie," he said.

Support for regional infrastructure in 2006-07

Mr Lloyd said AusLink's holistic approach to infrastructure funding rewarded land transport concepts that support growth of regional industries, respond to structural change and strengthen local economic opportunities.

He said $12.3 million would be spent in 2006-07 on an initial round of projects in Tasmania under the AusLink Strategic Regional Programme, including works on the Bass Highway at Sisters Hills and the Tasman Highway and Bridport Main Road.

"The State Government has cooperated on these projects, as well as on a joint programme of improvements for the Lilydale-Scottsdale Road, where a $20.0 million upgrade is under way," Mr Lloyd said.

Investing in local roads in 2006-07

"Tasmania's councils will receive supplementary payments for improving the connectivity of local roads around the state, equivalent to an additional one year of Roads to Recovery funding. The payment will be made in 2005-06 and councils can spend it immediately on projects they nominate.

"This extra one-off payment in 2005-06 represents a significant $10.0 million injection for local road improvements.

"The Australian Government will also invest an additional $49.6 million in Tasmania's local roads during 2006-07. This includes $10.0 million from the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme, $12.3 million from AusLink's Strategic Regional Programme and $27.3 million in untied Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) for local roads.

"Councils are accountable to the Australian Government for spending the money, but may select priority projects according to local priorities," Mr Lloyd said.

Mr Lloyd said the Government wanted to enhance the ability of regional industries and communities to compete in the national and global economy, and to improve access to services.

"The Department of Transport and Regional Services is assessing applications from councils for unallocated funds under the AusLink Strategic Regional Programme. Successful applicants will be notified later this year," he said.

Fixing black spot locations to save lives

The Australian Government is also delivering on its commitment to extend the AusLink Black Spot Programme until 2007-08. The aim is to prevent an estimated 500 casualty crashes on Australia's roads in 2006-07.

"The AusLink Black Spot Programme is unique among the suite of government land transport investments in that it targets funding to the worst crash sites, usually for remedial treatments such as traffic signals, turning lanes, roundabouts and improved lighting," Mr Lloyd said.

Tasmania will receive $1.1 million from the programme in 2006-07, which will be directed to fixing approximately 20 priority crash locations. For every dollar outlaid on black spot solutions, the community reaps a benefit estimated at $14," he said.

A detailed factsheet on the Australian Government's land transport projects in the Tasmania is attached.

Media contacts:
Mr Truss' office - Kylie Butler 02 6277 7680 / 0417 652 488
Mr Lloyd's office - Fiona Telford 02 6277 7060 / 0407 908 504

AusLink Backgrounder - Tasmania


AUSLINK NATIONAL NETWORK PROJECTS

Hobart-Burnie corridor

The 400 km Hobart-Burnie corridor (including the East Tamar Highway) joins Tasmania's larger population centres and is a key component of the state's infrastructure, critical to its economic prosperity. As well as the Midland and Bass Highways, it includes the East Tamar Highway and the mainline railway between Hobart and Burnie, but also serves the port and heavy industry precinct at Bell Bay.

The Australian Government's strategic priority for this corridor is to maintain connectivity and reliability, with capacity enhancements at critical sections as warranted. It has been working towards duplicating all remaining two lane sections of the Bass Highway from east of Devonport to Burnie. A particular priority has been maintaining the future viability of rail in Tasmania.

Bridgewater Bridge

The old Bridgewater Bridge is situated at a pivotal point in the Tasmanian transport network. It carries 18,000 vehicles and four freight trains per day. Traffic volumes are growing at 2.5 per cent annually, leading to delays.

The proposed project involves building a new bridge downstream of the existing 1940s Bridgewater Bridge, which will be retained because of its heritage value. The existing structure would be refurbished to serve rail and local traffic requirements. An interchange would be constructed at Granton, in the south, to provide a link to the Lyell Highway. Another interchange would be located at Bridgewater.

The Australian Government has offered to invest $100.0 million in a new Bridgewater Bridge and has allocated $57.0 million from 2004-05 to 2008-09.

The Australian Government acknowledges that the Tasmanian Government is reconsidering its position on the priority of various proposed road projects, including construction of this project. In the event that the Tasmanian Government produces a proposal for an alternative project on the northern approaches to Hobart, the Australian Government has agreed to consider it in good faith. The alternative would require a sound business case and reason and rationale for any alternative approach being sought.

Bass Highway - Penguin to Ulverstone duplication Stages 1 and 2

The first stage of the duplication of the Bass Highway around Penguin and Ulverstone was completed and opened to traffic in February 2006.

The Australian Government has pledged $42.0 million, with $18.0 million in 2006-07, to meet the cost of duplicating the last remaining two lane section over a distance of 5.5 km, including a second bridge over the Leven River at Ulverstone. Work is expected to start in August 2006.

It will be a major impetus to business investment, tourism and growth. It will also address safety for local commuters.

East Tamar Highway upgrading

The Australian Government has made a new commitment of $60.0 million, to be paid in 2005-06, but to be spent in subsequent years to the end of 2009, to a major upgrading of the East Tamar Highway between Launceston and Bell Bay.

The East Tamar Highway is characterised by a variable operating environment, particularly varying road widths. It carries a high level of heavy vehicles and commuter traffic. The current nature of the road creates many potential conflicts between the various users, particularly between light and heavy vehicles. Australian Government funding will be used to undertake improvements that will result in a more consistent operating environment along the road and create a safer link for all users.

MAINTENANCE

Maintaining the condition of roads in the National Network addresses transport costs, efficiency and safety. The AusLink Network in Tasmania receives $5.9 million in maintenance spending in 2006-07.

SUPPORTING RAIL OPERATIONS IN TASMANIA

The Australian Government announced in December 2005 that it was prepared to provide almost $86.7 million in funding for the Tasmanian rail element of the AusLink network.

The package involves $78.0 million of AusLink funding for capital upgrading of the Tasmanian mainline rail network over 10 years. The Government also offered to consider a $3.7 million contribution towards the cost of expanded road and rail terminals at Bell Bay and a further $5.0 million for a similar facility at Brighton.

Australian Government funding would be sourced from the AusLink Investment Programme, including funds not required for the new Bridgewater Bridge in the five years to mid-2009. The offer is conditional on funding contributions from the Tasmanian Government and Pacific National, which would be required to maintain rail freight services in Tasmania for 10 years. The Australian Government offer is consistent with the amount sought by Pacific National to maintain operations.

NON-NETWORK PROJECTS

Lilydale-Scottsdale Road

The Australian and Tasmanian Governments are sharing the $20.0 million cost of upgrading the Lilydale-Scottsdale Road to improve safety, replace old bridges and upgrade the access to Scottsdale. The Australian Government contribution is capped at $10.0 million. Some $690,000 will be provided in 2006-07. Work is under way at the Listers Lane end, near Scottsdale. A new sweeping curve will connect Golconda Road with Listers Lane and its junction with George Street will be reconstructed. Golconda Road will be widened and realigned over Hurst Creek. A dam and spillway will replace an existing farm dam to form a road across the creek. Some safety works are being carried out also.

These latest works account for approximately half of the Australian Government's contribution to this project.