DEPUTY Prime Minister Michael McCormack recently announced 93 road upgrade projects under round six of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.
Included in round six are two port-related projects: works on Buss Street in the Port of Bundaberg, and upgrades to two intersections on Broome’s Port Drive, a main access road for the Port of Broome.
Mr McCormack, who is also the minister for transport and infrastructure, said the program would increase the productivity and safety of heavy vehicles by building the capacity of existing roads and improving connections to the country’s freight networks.
“One of the keys to the success of this program is the input of local knowledge to address local road issues. Of these 93 road projects, more than 60% will be undertaken by local councils,” Mr McCormack said.
“By upgrading these routes and rolling out supporting infrastructure such as rest stops and parking bays, heavy vehicle operators across the country will enjoy safer, quicker and more productive journeys.”
Assistant minister for roads and transport Scott Buchholz said Australian government’s commitment of $132.5m in this round of the program would be matched by local councils and state and territory governments, delivering a total investment of at least $319 million towards the projects.
“This program delivers improved heavy vehicle safety,” Mr Buchholz said.
The Australian Trucking Association welcomed the announcement, with ATA CEO Ben Maguire saying it was a huge win for the ATA and its member associations.
“For a long time, we have campaigned for improved and more frequent rest areas, and it’s extremely rewarding to have locked down such significant funding,” he said.
“Earlier this year, I walked in the shoes of a truck driver and spent the night at a ‘best practice’ truck rest area in NSW. The noise was far too loud, and the bathroom facilities were poorly lit. Conditions that would be unacceptable in any other workplace.”
Mr Maguire pointed the construction of several rest areas for heavy vehicles.
“Our roads and rest areas are a driver’s workplace and we have no chance of resolving fatigue if drivers are not provided with appropriate facilities to ensure a safe journey,” he said.
“Having appropriate rest area facilities for heavy vehicles is not optional. It’s not nice to have; it is a fundamental requirement.”
Mr Maguire said the Deputy Prime Minister understands trucking and the important role it plays in the Australia economy.
“Together with government, industry and the wider community, we can work together to make our roads a safer place for everyone,” he said.