Feds to pump $140m into rest areas, infrastructure

<b><font color=red>BUDGET</font></b>: Government will extend multi-million dollar heavy vehicle rest area program for another seven years

By Brad Gardner | May 9, 2012

The Federal Government has committed to building and upgrading rest areas across the nation as part of a multi-million dollar package that will also target vital road infrastructure projects.

Treasurer Wayne Swan has set aside $140 million over seven years to continue the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, which started in the 2009 financial year.

The existing tranche of funding expires on June 30 this year, but the Federal Budget handed down yesterday has allocated another $10 million for 2012-13.

The Government will spend $30 million in 2013-14, with a commitment to invest $20 million annually between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

"The program funds projects aimed at improving safety and productivity for the heavy vehicle industry and other road users, such as technology trials addressing speed and fatigue; construction of rest stops and parking on highways; and upgrades to freight routes," budget papers say.

Peak industry bodies have welcomed the commitment, with Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman David Simon saying more rest areas are needed.

"The government has built or upgraded more than 70 rest areas under its existing funding program, which expires in June, but there is still a long way to go," he says.

Simon hopes funds will also go to bridge upgrades to cater for B-doubles and B-triples, reducing the number of trucks needed on the road and increasing productivity in the process.

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (LRTA) says the investment in strengthening road bridges will deliver strong gains for rural operators.

"Over coming years, this commitment of a steady flow of targeted funding will improve freight efficiency in rural and regional Australia and that will improve the international competitiveness of farm exports," ALRTA President John Beer says.

"Importantly, the government has confirmed to the ALRTA that it has decided to make this a permanent road funding program. It will continue forever, and gradually we’ll see the roadblocks in rural and regional areas being lifted."

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