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BRIDGING THE VICTORIA RIVER

   
8 May 2007 008TRS/Budget

The construction of a new bridge across the Victoria River will begin in late 2007, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mark Vaile, and the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, announced today.

The Australian Government will spend $18.2 million in 2007-08 on the high-level bridge and other bridges as part of its $50 million commitment towards upgrading the Victoria Highway through the Victoria River floodplain. The Government advanced $30 million of the commitment to the Northern Territory in June 2006.

"The Victoria Highway is cut by floodwaters every year, often for weeks at a time. The new bridge will make sure that the highway remains open to traffic longer, with fewer disruptions even in the heaviest wet seasons," Mr Vaile said.

The work across the Victoria River floodplain is a highlight of the Australian Government's $65.7 million investment in Northern Territory roads in 2007-08. The Northern Territory will also receive a fair share of the $22.3 billion in new land transport funding that the Government announced today.

The new funding will run from 2009-10 to 2013-14. It will be available under AusLink 2, the second stage of the Government's national land transport plan.

"AusLink 2 will continue our massive investment in Australia's roads and railways. We will also be able to provide more money for local roads under the AusLink Roads to Recovery and AusLink Strategic Regional programmes. These programmes were due to end in June 2009; they will now continue until June 2014," Mr Vaile said.

"The Government has already announced that we will extend the Black Spot programme under AusLink 2 until 2013-14 and increase its funding by 33 per cent. The Black Spot programme funds safety works at dangerous locations on our roads.

"The Government will announce the details of the Northern Territory's funding under AusLink 2 in due course, following discussions with the Northern Territory Government.

"Meanwhile, we are continuing to fund critical land transport projects across the territory under the existing AusLink programme."

AusLink National Network projects in 2007-08

Minister Lloyd said the Australian Government would spend $38.7 million in 2007-08 on AusLink National Network projects in the Northern Territory, including the new Victoria Bridge.

"The Government has the capacity to provide immediately our full $13.7 million contribution to the Tiger Brennan Drive-East Arm Port Access project, as soon as the Northern Territory puts forward an appropriate proposal to use the money. In the meantime, we have allocated $2 million to the project in 2007-08," Mr Lloyd said.

"In addition, the Australian Government will spend:

  • $4 million to widen and rehabilitate old and narrow sections of the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly highways; and
  • $14.6 million to help maintain the roads on the AusLink National Network.

AusLink Strategic Regional Programme

"The Government will spend an additional $250 million in 2006-07 on AusLink Strategic Regional projects around Australia. The programme helps local councils build transport infrastructure projects that will boost their local and regional economies and create jobs.

"As a result, the Government will be able to make more funding offers in response to applications we have received from councils. The Government will announce the successful projects in the near future, including projects in the Northern Territory.

"The Government is already contributing $9.7 million to projects in the Northern Territory under the programme, including improving Port Keats Road between Wadeye and Sandy Creek, providing greater flood immunity for Florina Road near Katherine, and upgrading 15.5 kilometres of the Plenty Highway, which runs from the Stuart Highway, north of Alice Springs, to the Queensland border. The upgrade is part of our work on developing the transcontinental Outback Way.

AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme

"The Northern Territory's 63 local councils will receive $5 million in 2007-08 from the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme. The unincorporated areas of the territory will receive $4 million for local roads under the programme. In addition, the councils will receive $12.6 million in untied local road grants.

AusLink Black Spot Programme

The Northern Territory will receive $672,000 in 2007-08 under the AusLink Black Spot Programme, which will be directed to fixing eight priority crash locations," Mr Lloyd said.

Attachment A is a detailed fact sheet about the Australian Government's land transport projects in the Northern Territory.

Media contacts:
Deputy Prime Minister's office: Tim Langmead 02 6277 7680/0421 584 990
Minister Lloyd's office: James Larsson 02 6277 7060/0434 305 130

ATTACHMENT A

NORTHERN TERRITORY

The Australian Government will provide the Northern Territory with $65.7 million in land transport funding in 2007-08, as set out in the table below. In addition, the Government provided the Northern Territory with a $30 million advance payment in June 2006 for the new Victoria River bridge and other work on the Victoria River floodplain.

The projects detailed in this fact sheet are funded under the existing AusLink land transport programme. The Government will announce the projects that will be funded under AusLink 2 in due course, following discussions with the Northern Territory Government.

Australian Government land transport funding, Northern Territory, 2007-08

  2007-08
Funding
($ million)
AusLink Investment Programme 38.7
AusLink Strategic Regional Programme 4.7
AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme 9.0
Untied local road grants 12.6
AusLink Black Spot Programme 0.7

Total

65.7

This table updates the tables in Budget Paper No.3. The figures may not add precisely to the total due to rounding.

AUSLINK NATIONAL NETWORK PROJECTS

Tiger Brennan Drive

Within Darwin, the Australian and Northern Territory governments are working toward extending Tiger Brennan Drive from the intersection of the Stuart Highway and Roystonea Avenue to Darwin's East Arm Port. The construction of the first stage could begin in late 2007.

The Australian Government has put $13.7 million on the table in the current AusLink programme towards the upgrade of Tiger Brennan Drive. It is now up to the Northern Territory Government to come forward with a viable proposal that will enable us to spend the money by mid-2009.

The extension of Tiger Brennan Drive and the duplication of Berrimah Road to the port at East Arm will relieve pressure on other arterial roads in the Darwin urban area, including the Stuart Highway.

A new bridge across the Victoria River

Tenders will be called soon for the construction of new or improved bridges across the Victoria River floodplain, including the new high-level bridge across the Victoria River. Construction is expected to start in late 2007 and be completed in 2009. The Australian Government is providing $18.2 million for this work in 2007-08 in addition to the $30 million it advanced to the Northern Territory in June 2006.

As well as the bridge over the Victoria River, the works will also raise and strengthen the Joe, Lost, Sandy, Little Horse and Big Horse creek bridges and lift sections of the highway to higher ground.

The Victoria Highway links Katherine in the Northern Territory to Kununurra in Western Australia and is the only sealed highway across north-west Australia.

Highway widening and rehabilitation

The Australian Government is providing $20 million to widen and rehabilitate aged and narrow sections of the Stuart, Barkly and Victoria Highways in the Northern Territory. The Government will spend $4 million on the works in 2007-08.

Maintenance

Also, the Australian Government will provide the Northern Territory with $14.6 million in 2007-08 to help maintain the roads forming the AusLink National Network in the Territory.

AUSLINK STRATEGIC REGIONAL PROGRAMME

The AusLink Strategic Regional Programme helps local councils build transport infrastructure projects that will boost their local and regional economies and create jobs.

The Government is already contributing $9.7 million to projects in the Northern Territory under the programme, but important and valuable projects missed out on receiving support because more applications were received from local councils than could be funded.

As a result, the Government has announced today that it will spend an additional $250 million in 2006-07 on strategic regional projects around Australia.

It will enable the Government to make more funding offers in response to applications it has received from councils. The Government will announce the successful projects in the near future, including projects in the Northern Territory.

The Government will invest an additional $300 million in the AusLink Strategic Regional Programme under AusLink 2, which will enable councils to submit new funding applications.

MORE FUNDING FOR LOCAL ROADS

The Australian Government will provide Northern Territory councils with $5 million in 2007-08 from the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme and $12.6 million in untied local road grants.

The Northern Territory Government will receive $4 million under the Roads to Recovery Programme to help maintain and upgrade roads in the unincorporated areas of the territory that are not covered by local councils. The Northern Territory has 9,000 kilometres of unsealed local roads in unincorporated areas.

The Government has announced that the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme will continue until 2013-14, instead of ending in 2008-09.

AUSLINK BLACK SPOT PROGRAMME

The Northern Territory will receive $672,000 in 2007-08 under the AusLink Black Spot Programme, which will be directed to fixing eight priority crash locations.

The Government has announced that the AusLink Black Spot Programme will continue until 2013-14, with a 33 per cent increase in funding from the start of 2009-10. The programme was due to end in 2007-08.