$150 million for neglected outback road upgrades

A new $150 million trial program launched this week will target some of the most neglected unsealed roads throughout remote Australia.

The Australian government funded Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot Program is set to offer councils between 80 and 100 per cent of funding to upgrade unsealed roads and improve safety with works such as resurfacing, removing dangerous corners and managing vegetation.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce says some of the roads being targeted through the program haven’t been upgraded since the Great Depression.

“This is not about sealing roads; it is about making them safer,” he said. “The Liberals and Nationals Government will partner with local government in delivering this new funding to address many neglected roads that are out of sight to most people. We recognise the costs of upgrading rural and regional roads are often prohibitive for local governments.”

Joyce says guidelines for the new program would be released by the end of the year to target unsealed roads more than 20 kilometres long.

He added that the road toll in regional communities was more than four times greater than in the major cities, and 10 times greater in remote communities.

“There are 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people in the major cities; 10 deaths per 100,000 in regional areas; and 25.1 deaths per 100,000 in remote areas.

“Our regional towns are the lifeblood of our nation, and every Australian deserves safe and efficient roads regardless of where they live.

The Government will work with local councils and state and territory jurisdictions to identify projects for funding under the new commitment.

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