North roads gets infrastructure boost

Federal government to spend $140 million in Queensland, $130 million in NT and $90 million in WA

North roads gets infrastructure boost
Agriculture and water resources minister Barnaby Joyce says the projects will help unlock untapped potential of the northern region.


The federal government has rolled out a funding program to support road infrastructure development in Australia’s north.

The Northern Australian Roads Programme aims to fund high-priority projects that are essential to support economic development in the region.

The federal government’s 80:20 funding partnership with Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory Governments involves a total $360 million spending on road upgrade projects.

The program will see over $140 million being invested on roads in Queensland, over $130 million in the NT and over $90 million in WA. 

"The Australian Government has worked with the northern jurisdictions to identify priority projects to support economic development and regional communities, making it easier for people and freight to travel vast distances," agriculture and water resources minister Barnaby Joyce says.

The government has plans to spur growth in the region through "targeted" investment in key projects, including road infrastructure, he says.

""We will continue to work with the state government and local communities to identify priorities for further investment to benefit both the region and the national economy."

Key projects in Qld include:

  • Over $33 million for two projects along the Flinders Highway, one between Townsville and Torrens Creek and the other between Charters Towers and Richmond
  • Close to $43 million for works on the Kennedy Developmental Road
  • Close to $5 million for intersection upgrades on the Barkly Highway in Mount Isa
  • $60 million for expansion of the Capricorn Highway between Rockhampton and Gracemere

NT projects include:

  • Close to $8 million to seal 8.4km of an unsealed section of Tjukaruru Road
  • $20 million to upgrade sections of unsealed sections of the Plenty Highway to a two-lane sealed standard, including flood immunity works, as well as sealing further sections of the highway
  • Close to $40 million for upgrades of the Keep River Plains Road to support Project Sea Dragon and the development of Ord Stage 3
  • Over $62 million to upgrade the Arnhem Highway, to improve flood immunity at the Adelaide River floodplain
  • Over $360 million is being rolled out for new road upgrade projects in northern Australia, with $130 million being invested in the first four Northern Australia Roads Programme projects in the Northern Territory

WA projects include:

  • Over $24 million to widen an 18.6km section of the Great Northern Highway – Wyndham Spur Stage 2
  • Over $20 million to improve the road alignment and build new passing lanes on the Maggie's Jump Up section of the Great Northern Highway
  • Over $43.5 million to realign and rebuild a section of Marble Bar Road that passes through Coongan Gorge

The Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA) tells Owner//Driver that while the funding allocation for WA is "important" for the relevant projects, it does not address state-wide infrastructure issues as a result of "unfair" federal funding allocation.

"WARTA welcomes the federal funding of these three road projects in Northern WA, as part of the Developing Northern Australia policy," WARTA freight and logistics division manager Cam Dumesny says.

The identified project are important to making safer and more productive road network in Northern WA.

However these funds form part of a national policy to develop the potential of Australia’s North, and do not address the fundamental issue of WA’s continuing to be short changed on Federal road funding.

Infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester says the funding will not only support regional economic growth, it will also improve safety and reliability of critical routes.

NT chief minister Nicole Manison says the Outback Way provides a strategic east-west link across central Australia and is a key link for various industries.

"The Plenty Highway, which is part of the Outback Way, has been identified by the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association as a key road for cattle industry growth in Central Australia.

"The Keep River Road upgrade is of serious local importance—by supporting proposed infrastructure projects such as Project Sea Dragon and Ord Stage 3 it has the potential to stimulate economic development and population growth.

"The Adelaide River Floodplain is notorious in the Top End for wet season closures.

"This project will provide all-weather access across the 5.3km floodplain for the extractive industries, tourism, defence as well as Territorians in Arnhem Land."



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