The Victorian Transport Association has welcomed a significant increase in funding for two road infrastructure programs that it says will contribute to greater safety and productivity for regional transport operators and other road users in general.
Earlier this week, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Catherine King announced a doubling of Roads to Recovery funding from $500 million to $1 billion over time, along with an increase in Black Spot funding to $150 million per year.
As part of the funding announcements, the government will merge the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) and the Bridges Renewal Program (BRP) into a new Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program, which it says will reduce administrative burdens on councils, freeing up their funds for new road safety projects.
Funding for the new program will also gradually increase to $200 million per year, up from the current $150 million annual investment.
“We’re grateful for what is a very substantial reinvestment in our regional roads and bridges nationally, many of which are in varying states of disrepair after fire and flood, and through general wear and tear,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.
“The Black Spots program has saved countless lives and the additional investment the Commonwealth has announced can only help to prevent needless tragedy and loss of life on our regional transport networks.
“The transport industry has a natural interest in working with local, state, and federal governments to make the roads safer for all motorists through a combination of driver training and infrastructure repairs and maintenance. The new funding will go a long way towards ensuring our roads are as safe as possible and is a positive road safety outcome for regional Australia.”
Since floods last year washed away significant parts of Victoria’s regional transportation network, the VTA had been consistently calling for additional federal and state funding.
“The McIvor, Melba and Midland Highways have yet to fully recover from the floods so we would hope some of this funding can be directed to their full reinstatement, which is necessary for a safe and reliable regional Victorian freight network,” he said.
Meanwhile, Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) said it had finished works on a one-kilometre section of the Loddon Valley Highway in Appin South in northern Victoria, “providing a smoother and more reliable journey for road users”.
Crews have rebuilt the section south of Kerang, between Appin South Road and Marcorna Road. The existing road surface was stabilised, and a new pavement layer added to strengthen the road before the entire length was resurfaced.
RRV said the safer and more durable surface will benefit the more than 1500 vehicles who use the road each day, including hundreds of heavy vehicles.