THE FEDERAL government has committed $45 million to 19 priority freight-route safety upgrades.

Around $25 million would go to 14 projects under the Bridges Renewal Program, and the other $20 million to five projects under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP).

HVSPP aims to support improvements to roads that are part of freight routes. This includes the installation of intersections, widening roads, sealing roads and installing safety barriers to increase the productivity and safety of heavy vehicle operations.

The latest HVSPP projects include:

  • $5 million towards the upgrade of two existing causeways and one new causeway at three locations on Malbon-Selwyn Road at Cloncurry in Queensland;
  • $5 million to reconstruct and widen around six kilometres of Mount William Road at Yalla-Y-Poora in Victoria; and
  • $5 million to upgrade Route 1 of the Wedgefield road network at Wedgefield in Western Australia, including widening and sealing 580 metres of road, installing precast box culverts to mitigate flooding, and pavement upgrades.

And the Bridges Renewal Program supports the upgrade of old and worn timber bridges to “modern structures” that can take more weight and are better equipped for major weather events.

The latest projects in this program include:

  • $2.7 million to replace Comobella Bridge over Mitchell’s Creek at Comobella outside of Dubbo with a concrete structure,
  • $1.8 million towards the reconstruction and widening of Appila Spring Bridge at Appila in South Australia, and
  • $1.6 million to replace the culvert on Almurta Glen Forbes Road at Almurta in Victoria.

The federal government is partnering with local councils to deliver the projects in fast-growing communities and in areas home to major production hubs.

Federal regional development minister Kristy McBain said regional road networks are ageing while communities outside big cities are growing.

“Bridges are critical access points in and out of our communities, and freight routes are central to the efficient delivery of essential products and services, which is why this $45 million will go a long way to improving the safety and reliability of these regional road networks,” she said.

Assistant minister for infrastructure and transport Carol Brown said the government wants to make the nation’s busiest freight routes safer for truckies.

“Without our truckies, Australia stops. That’s why we are investing in keeping them safe on our roads,” she said.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility. We all must do our part to ensure every road user gets home safely.

“I am pleased to see another five projects come to life under the HVSPP, which will increase safety and reliability for the trucking industry across Australia while bolstering access through local rural communities.”

The Bridges Renewal Program and HVSPP will consolidate into the Safer Local Road and Infrastructure Program from 1 July 2024 – with an additional $50 million to be added to the new program.