Transport infrastructure focus in Vic Budget

Public transport spending the main game as roads also get a boost


The Victorian Budget has big ticket transport infrastructure spending to tackle congestion with the exception being anything for a northern connection between the Western Ring Road and the Eastlink freeway.

While the other road-related spending will be welcome, that connection is dear to the industry, other road-user groups and local residents.

The Budget provides $7 billion in total for road projects including duplicating Yan Yean Rd and Thompsons Rd, building the Western Distributor, upgrading the Monash Freeway, streamlining Hoddle Street, and for other projects to improve road safety and reduce congestion.

This will be trumped by the $10.9 billion promised for the Melbourne Metro Rail project the state is to go it alone on.

Urban projects include: $437 million to upgrade Thompsons Road, Yan Yean Road, O’Herns Road, Hoddle Street, and Bolton Street in Eltham; $228 million to duplicate sections of Dohertys Road and Hallam Road and widen Plenty Road; $10 million to plan the next stage of expanding the outer suburban arterial road network.

The CityLink-Tullamarine Freeway widening project will widen the Western Link section of CityLink – from the West Gate Freeway – Burnley Tunnel to Bulla Road – and Tullamarine Freeway – from Bulla Road to the Melbourne Airport – and introduce a Freeway Management System along this corridor.

In addition to the funding sourced from CityLink tolls, the state and Commonwealth governments will provide $272.8 million.

The total estimated capital cost of the project is to be $1.28 billion, with the state's works on the Tullamarine Freeway estimated to cost $415 million and Transurban works on CityLink estimated to cost $867 million. 

The project is expected to be completed by 2018.

There is to be a $1.4 billion road improvement package, to expand arterial roads

In regional Victoria, $107 million will be invested to build the Bellarine Peninsula’s Drysdale Bypass.

The Budget also includes $130 million to repair unsafe and deteriorating road surfaces, $51.6 million for regional highways and $52 million to improve traffic flow and safety on some of the smaller local roads.

More directly freight-sensitive, $76 million goes to strengthening road bridges on key freight corridors, while $30 million to complete Stage 1 of the Murray Basin Rail Project. This $180-$220 million project will upgrade rail freight in northern Victoria so larger trains can carry more product.

A proportion of the Budget funding is predicated on the state’s biggest asset recycling item.

"I’m pleased to report that the 2016-17 Budget also includes the expected proceeds from the long-term lease of the Port of Melbourne," treasurer Tim Pallas says in his Budget speech.

"These proceeds will be invested in the removal of our 50 most dangerous and congested level crossings.

"The completion of this transaction will see Labor’s biggest and most significant election commitment signed, sealed and delivered."

There is to be $1.46 billion over the forward estimates to build the Western Distributor Project, including full funding to widen and upgrade the Monash Freeway.

The Monash Freeway will be widened from four to five lanes each way between the EastLink interchange and the South Gippsland Freeway, and from two to three lanes each way through to Clyde Road in Berwick.

Smart technology involving new and upgraded ramp signals and variable message signs will be installed between Warrigal Road and Koo Wee Rup Road to help prevent traffic banking up and causing congestion and crashes.

For business, there will be some tax relief.

"To reduce the tax burden on our businesses, the payroll tax threshold will be progressively lifted from $550,000 to $650,000 over the next four years," Pallas says.

"This is the first change to the payroll tax threshold since 2002.

"The change will provide tax relief for 36,000 businesses across the State and see around 2,800 small and medium size businesses no longer pay any payroll tax at all.

"Additionally, from July 1 this year, any business that takes on a retrenched apprentice or trainee will receive full payroll tax relief on those wages."

The Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) levies registration charges on vehicles engaged in interstate trade and commerce remains steady at $19 million.

National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects for agreed road and rail projects from 2014-15 to 2018‑19 falls nearly 34 per cent, from $494.4 million to $327.5 million.

Discounted registration fee for heavy vehicles operated by primary producers will rise from $36.4 million to $38.8 million yearly to 2018-19.  



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