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Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Federal Government Keeps Victoria Moving

John Anderson

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Leader of the National Party

A4/Budget

14th May 2002

The Federal Government will spend $410.7 million in 2002-03 on Victoria's roads, an increase of $26.4 million over the 2001-02 allocation, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said today.

"The Budget includes funding for the Scoresby Freeway and the Pakenham bypass. We have also kept our promise to continue the vital Black Spot Programme, which is saving lives on Victoria's roads.

"In the long term, our strategic objective is to complete Melbourne's ring road system and extend four-lane divided highways to all of the major provincial cities on the National Highway system.

"The objective has been met already using federal funds on highway corridors radiating from Melbourne to Wodonga, Traralgon, Geelong, and Ballarat. Quality road links to Shepparton and Bendigo are firmly on the agenda.

Keeping our promise on the Scoresby Freeway

"The Government will spend $68.4 million in 2002-03 on the Scoresby Freeway. It is the largest single item of expenditure in the 2002-03 Federal roads budget.

"The Scoresby Freeway, through Melbourne's eastern suburbs, will deliver major national economic benefits by providing reliable connections to Melbourne's ports, airports, and rail terminals, and links to the rest of the state's highway network.

"Construction could start in mid to late 2003 and follow on from the current extension of the Eastern Freeway to Ringwood.

"The Federal Government's total contribution is capped at $445 million. Overall, the 40 km freeway is estimated to cost about $900 million, not including the cost of public transport infrastructure.

Pakenham bypass

"The Federal Government has made a commitment to spend $100 million (matched by $100 million of state funding) to construct the Pakenham bypass.

"Federal funds for the project will begin to flow from 2003-04; the Victorian Government has given priority to constructing the Hallam bypass.

"The Princes Highway between Beaconsfield and Pakenham is rated as the worst crash zone in Victoria. The bypass will reduce congestion and delays on the Princes Highway, and remove heavy traffic from the streets of Pakenham and Officer.

"I want to pay tribute today to the efforts of the Member for Latrobe, Bob Charles, who has worked incredibly hard to secure funding for this important project.

Regional highways

"The Federal Government will spend $60 million in 2002-03 to complete the widening of the Geelong Road. By late this year, the Geelong Road will be widened to four lanes each way between Werribee and Melbourne's Western Ring Road, with three lanes operating in each direction between Werribee and Geelong.

"We will spend $30.5 million on the Goulburn Valley Highway, which will continue the construction of the $94 million Murchison East deviation. The deviation will eliminate a dangerous dog-leg and level crossing. This includes $300,000 in 2002-03 on planning for a highway upgrade at Nagambie.

"The Government has earmarked $14 million in 2002-03 to complete the Carlsruhe section of the Calder Highway. The 8 kilometre Carlsruhe section links the Woodend bypass to the south and the existing Kyneton bypass to the north. It will provide the final link in a continuous freeway-standard road from Melbourne to Kyneton by early 2003.

Craigieburn bypass

"The Federal Government will spend $45 million in 2002-03 on the construction of the Craigieburn bypass, which began in April 2002. It is expected to be completed in 2004-05.

"The Craigieburn Bypass involves realigning 17 kmilometres of the Hume Highway from Craigieburn to the Western Ring Road, at a total cost of around $306 million.

"We have imposed stringent conditions on the construction of the bypass, which will protect the natural and cultural significance of the local area. The freeway alignment will not cross areas of native grasslands and will run to the west of the Whittlesea Gardens.

Albury-Wodonga bypass

"The 2002-03 Budget includes $6.1 million for an external bypass of Albury-Wodonga. An environmental report on the New South Wales section should be completed by March 2003, allowing the precise route to be known by October 2003. Construction should begin early in 2004.

"The bypass will become the National Highway route, replacing the existing Hume Highway corridor through town. The Kaitlers Road intersection at Laverton will be improved at a cost of $2 million in 2002-03.

"In addition, the Federal Government has agreed to contribute $70 million to the cost of a new internal arterial road and a second Murray River crossing to further the development of Albury-Wodonga. We have sought matching contributions from Victoria and New South Wales; Victoria has offered $30 million.

"The New South Wales Government is yet to agree to provide funds for this important project. We will continue to press the NSW Government to meet its obligations to the people of Albury-Wodonga.

Western Highway

"The Western Highway is being realigned at Armstrong, near Ararat, under a $12.9 million plan to build a road overpass above the railway line. The existing road is restricted by height and speed, forcing large vehicles to detour around the site and over an uncontrolled level crossing. The Government will spend $6.1 million on the new overpass in 2002-03.

"Elsewhere, the Federal Government has funded the Hopkins Road interchange on the Western Highway and is awaiting the outcome of a planning study and design completion, which will determine the cost and construction schedule for the Leakes Road interchange.

"Planning for the Deer Park bypass is now complete. It is the largest single project required to meet the objective of full freeway conditions between Melbourne and Ballarat. It is likely to cost more than $195 million. It will not be possible to fund this bypass until other large projects in Victoria are completed, including the Scoresby Freeway and the Craigieburn bypass.

Murray River bridges

"The Federal Government has committed $44 million to assist the NSW and Victorian Governments construct new bridges over the Murray River at Corowa ($12 million), Echuca ($15 million) and Robinvale ($17 million). $36 million dollars is on offer in 2002-03.

"I want to stress that these figures represent the limit of the Federal Government's contribution, given that the bridges are wholly the responsibility of New South Wales and Victoria. We are in a position to provide funds to both state governments for work to proceed, as soon as they sign the necessary Deeds of Grant. All three projects are moving through the pre-construction and design phases.

"Unless the two state governments get moving on the bridges, we may have to spend the available funds elsewhere. My message to Carl Scully and Peter Batchelor is simple. Use the money or lose it.

Local roads

"Local roads in Victoria will receive $132.7 million in 2002-03 from the Roads to Recovery Programme and untied Local Road Grants," Mr Anderson said.

"The $1.2 billion Roads to Recovery Programme is the largest funding injection into local roads by any Federal Government. Local councils, rather than government bureaucrats, are responsible for identifying Roads to Recovery projects, because we recognise that local leaders are best placed to judge the needs of their communities.

Saving lives with the Black Spot Programme

"The Government has kept its election commitment to continue the Black Spot Programme, which provides funding to improve dangerous locations on Australia's roads. The programme is estimated to have prevented more than 1,500 serious crashes during its first three years of operation. We will spend $180 million nationally on the programme over the next four years.

"Victoria will receive $10.4 million in 2002-03 under the Black Spot Programme, which will undoubtedly save lives," Mr Anderson said.

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680

BACKGROUND BRIEFING - 2002-03 ROADS PROGRAMME - VICTORIA

Scoresby Freeway

The Federal Government will provide $68.4 million in 2002-03 for the construction of the Scoresby Freeway. The Government's total contribution is capped at $445 million.

The 40 kilometre Scoresby Freeway, between Ringwood and Frankston. will deliver major national economic benefits and will be a catalyst for urban renewal in much the same way as the Federal Government's $635 million investment in Melbourne's Metropolitan Ring Road fuelled development of Melbourne's north-west. A linked and integrated transport system that provides reliable connections to Melbourne's ports, airports and rail terminals is essential for industry in the Scoresby corridor and for the region's growing population.

The Scoresby corridor is home to more than 40 per cent of Melbourne's manufacturing and production activity and represents a major source of exports for Victoria and Australia. At one million people, the corridor population is greater than Adelaide's, and growing. The corridor also contains more than 350,000 jobs - representing 28 per cent of Melbourne's total workforce.

Consequently, development of transport infrastructure through the region is important to national economic performance. Depending on the method adopted to deliver the project, construction could proceed in late 2003 to follow on from the current extension of the Eastern Freeway to Ringwood.

The Victorian Government proposes additional public transport initiatives associated with the Scoresby Freeway.

Calder Highway

The Calder Highway was designated as a Road of National Importance between Melbourne and Bendigo in November 1996. It had been funded previously using Federal Government funds from the National Arterial Programme. The highway received its Roads of National Importance status because of its role as a strategic road link from Melbourne to northwest Victoria. It is also a key link providing interstate and inter-regional connections.

The highway carries high volumes of freight transport, business travel, and tourist traffic between Melbourne and Bendigo, and further north to Mildura.

A major objective has been to remove through traffic from a number of towns along the route between Melbourne and Bendigo.

It is estimated that an upgraded Calder Highway between Melbourne and Bendigo would result in overall travel time savings of $470 million, vehicle operating cost savings of $30 million, and savings in accident costs of $40 million.

The Victorian Government's current proposal is to duplicate the Calder from Melbourne to Bendigo by 2006. While the Federal Government will, when possible, assist Victoria to meet its stated road strategy, the highway is principally a state arterial road and the responsibility for meeting Victoria's strategy rests with the Victorian Government.

Since 1996, the Federal Government has committed a total of $100 million to Calder Highway projects.

Carlsruhe deviation - Construction of the 8 km, $50 million Carlsruhe deviation started in November 2001. The Federal Government is contributing half the cost. It connects the Woodend bypass to the south and the existing Kyneton bypass to the north. It will provide the final link in a continuous freeway-standard road from Melbourne to Kyneton by early 2003.

Planning beyond Kyneton - The Federal Government has contributed $1.5 million and $1.6 million respectively to the Kyneton-Faraday and the Harcourt-Ravenswood planning studies. The KF1 alternative route from Kyneton to Faraday has been chosen as the preferred option. It runs to the east of Taradale and is expected to cost $140 million.

Geelong Road

Southwest Melbourne and Geelong are experiencing significant growth in population and economic activity. The Princes Freeway linking Victoria's two largest cities carries six million tonnes of freight annually. It connects Melbourne with port facilities, Avalon airport, and agricultural and manufacturing regions to the South Australian border. Avalon Airport has been developed as an inter-modal freight hub and international export centre for southeastern Australian goods. It offers world class facilities for handling agricultural and horticultural produce.

The Geelong Road will receive $60 million from the Federal Government in 2002-03, in addition to $60 million provided already. The road has been declared a Road of National Importance, with the Federal Government agreeing to contribute $120 million to the cost of upgrading the highway to six and eight lanes. Overall, the Federal and State governments plan to spend $280 million on the 60 km link.

By late-2002, Geelong Road will be widened to four lanes each way between Werribee and Melbourne's Western Ring Road, while three lanes will operate in each direction between Werribee and Geelong.

Pakenham Bypass

A bypass of Pakenham was announced as a Road of National Importance in September 1998, paving the way for the Federal Government to make a $30 million contribution towards its cost, starting in financial year 2000-01. Subsequently, we reallocated the money to 2003-2004 in line with formal advice from the Victorian Government that the State priority is to construct the Hallam bypass first.

Last year, the Government announced that it would increase its total contribution to $100 million (to be matched by $100 million of State funding) for construction of the bypass. The bypass will reduce congestion and delays on the Princes Highway and remove heavy traffic from the streets of Pakenham and Officer.

It is proposed to build the bypass as a 17 km limited access freeway. There will be four interchanges. The bypass will be designed so that it can be widened to three lanes in each direction when required.

The Princes Highway between Beaconsfield and Pakenham is rated the worst crash zone in Victoria.

Melbourne urban link

Traffic modelling shows that the 20 km declared National Highway section of the Melbourne Western Ring Road is an important transport corridor in moving freight from factories and depots in western Melbourne to the Hume, Western, Princes and Calder highways.

The Western Ring Road between the Western and Princes highways is under State control, the remainder to Edgars Road a Commonwealth financial responsibility. The Federal Government has spent $635 million building the Western Ring Road. Traffic volumes have exceeded all expectations.

The Federal Government has turned to high technology solutions to improve safety and better control traffic using Melbourne's Western Ring Road. It is spending $13.8 million on a range of electronic traffic monitoring measures along the 38 km Ring Road as an effective means of maintaining peak-period traffic flows and overcoming congestion delays.

They have been supplemented by a number of traditional traffic engineering techniques, such as additional wire rope barriers, widening at selected bridges and increased capacity at on-off ramps.

Melbourne - Adelaide

Deer Park bypass planning - The existing route of the Western Highway through Deer Park is reaching capacity and construction of a 9.3 km bypass is expected to improve transport efficiency and local amenity. The Federal Government has funded a planning study for the proposed Deer Park bypass. The preferred route runs from the intersection of Fitzgerald Road and the Western Ring Road at Ardeer, past Derrimut Road and Riding Boundary Road, Deer Park, connecting with the freeway at Christie Road, near Caroline Springs. The 9.3 km road would cost $195 million.

While a route alignment has been selected, design work continues for the new freeway link from the Western Highway near Robinsons Road (just south of the Hopkins Road Interchange) to the Western Ring Road. As well as facilitating more direct access to Melbourne's sea and air ports, a Deer Park bypass would improve safety and cut 15 minutes off the existing journey.

The Deer Park Bypass is the largest project required to meet the objective of full freeway conditions between Melbourne and Ballarat. The Federal Government recently funded construction of the Hopkins Road interchange and planning for the Leakes Road interchange, which are also required to meet this objective.

It will not be possible to fund the bypass until other large projects in Victoria are completed, including the Scoresby Freeway and the Craigieburn bypass. The Victorian Government also places a higher priority on Calder and Goulburn Valley highway improvements.

Leakes Road interchange - The Federal Government has approved a $200,000 planning study into the timing and design of a traffic interchange at Leakes Road, Rockbank for construction in the future. The study sought to define the interchange layout, resolve access control issues and allow a local planning scheme amendment to occur ahead of construction.

Alternatives include a closed diamond interchange and realigning Leakes Road further west. Various options involving highway entry changes from Mount Cottrell Road to Hopkins Road have been put to local residents for their consideration. Associated access restoration between Deanside Drive and Ferris Road will be considered as part of a new interchange. Only when an accurate cost of the planned interchange and associated roadworks is made can their priority be established.

West of Beaufort upgrading - A highway overpass of the railway line creates a steep crest in the road west of Beaufort. An Ararat-bound overtaking lane ends sharply over the crest and the lack of sight distances confuses drivers. A large unprotected culvert lies west of the overtaking lane and motorists report sight line difficulties as they enter and leave a nearby roadhouse. The Federal Government will spend $240,000 extending the merge taper on the overtaking lane and altering the culvert so it presents less of a danger to traffic. Meanwhile, an acceleration lane will be built for Melbourne-bound vehicles exiting the roadhouse.

Barkly Street crossing - Minor repairs to eliminate the uneven surface at the Barkly Street railway crossing at Ararat were carried out in January 2002. Following the death of an elderly woman in a collision involving a car and a train that same month, the Federal and State governments are exploring options to install an overpass as part of a long-term strategy for upgrading the Western Highway. Short-term options include installation of boom gates.

Armstrong underpass - The Western Highway is being realigned at Armstrong, near Ararat, under a $12.9 million plan dubbed the 'hole in the wall' project by local residents.

The existing highway passes beneath the railway line in an underpass that is only 8.1 metres wide, instead of the desired 12 metres. The height restriction is just 4.6 metres. These constraints, together with a speed restriction of 80 kph and curves on both approaches combine to make the underpass a high crash risk. High vehicles must detour along a local road to an uncontrolled level crossing over the railway line.

A 4.2 km realignment of the Western Highway started in late 2001 and is substantially under way. It involves construction of a highway overpass above the interstate track, a bridge and three other structures over watercourses. A stock underpass will be built south of the railway.

Widening, Nhill to Kaniva - The 2002-03 Federal Budget includes a final payment of $1 million to complete a $20 million widening and rehabilitation project on the Western Highway between Nhill and Kaniva.

Melbourne - Brisbane

Pedestrian safety improvements - Safety on the Goulburn Valley Highway at Nagambie has been improved with the installation of pedestrian activated traffic signals. The $100,000 project includes provision of defined pedestrian crossing points linking shops, toilets and the adjacent lake. Nagambie is a popular stopover place for travellers and the pedestrian crossing will make it easier for them to explore the village and its attractions, as well as assist locals using the town's shopping precinct. A further $25,000 will be spent installing a reduced speed zone on the highway outside St Joseph's Primary School.

Nagambie upgrade - The Federal Government is funding a planning study into traffic management solutions for the highway at Nagambie. The investigation is expected to continue until the end of 2003. The community will be consulted during this time, leading to the reservation of a preferred alignment. Bypass routes running east of town are being considered as part of the study. A construction timeframe has yet to be established, but will be governed by cost - estimated at between $86 million and $105 million.

Murchison East deviation - Construction of the 19 km Murchison East deviation started in June 2001 and is expected to cost $94 million when it opens to traffic in early 2003. A portion of the project - a five-kilometre stretch near the Wahring roadhouse - opened in May 2002. This smaller section has been the scene of seven fatalities in 10 years. Work is proceeding ahead of schedule on the remainder of the project.

Murchison East is located 36 km south of Shepparton. The objective is to eliminate a highway dog leg and dangerous rail level crossing at Murchison East by diverting the highway between Wahring and south of Kialla West to a more direct route along the East Goulburn main irrigation channel. More than 50 percent of the earthworks have been completed, with all earth fill and levelling scheduled to be complete before winter 2002.

From 20 February 2002, traffic switched to a new alignment at the future Violet Town-Murchison Road interchange to allow a rail overbridge to be built. The carriageway will form the future entry ramp for Shepparton to Murchison traffic.

Shepparton bypass - The Goulburn Valley Highway bisects residential areas and the business centre, with a resultant adverse affect on traffic management functions through Shepparton. The Victorian Government has recommended a western route be preserved in future planning as the preferred new route of the National Highway at Shepparton.

The Government is evaluating the report. The likely cost is between $347 million and $362 million. A start on construction is not expected for a number of years.

Strathmerton deviation - The bypass objective is to provide a safer and shorter route for motorists, compared with the current road through Strathmerton, Yarroweyah and the notorious bends on the southern approach to Tocumwal.

Instead, the bypass would begin at the intersection of the Goulburn Valley and Murray Valley highways and channel traffic on a new corridor past Strathmerton towards Old Coach Road, the railway line and Tocumwal.

An independent panel exploring route options has recommended Option 7A as the most acceptable combination of environmental, social, economic and transport outcomes. This option leaves Rockliffs Road just south of Bearii East Road and connects with the Newell Highway via the existing Murray River bridge at Tocumwal.This 27 km realignment is estimated to cost $74 million.

Sydney - Melbourne

Albury-Wodonga bypass - An external bypass of Albury-Wodonga has been determined as the future route of the National Highway. At the same time, the Federal Government has agreed to contribute to an internal boulevard and another river crossing between both centres. It will be funded jointly with the States, but does not form part of the National Highway.

The National Highway bypass will be built in stages to freeway standard and funded fully by the Federal Government;

The design of the internal arterial road will be a matter for the Albury and Wodonga councils and the two state governments. Federal funding will be capped at $70 million. The Victorian State Government will contribute a further $30 million. The New South Wales Government is yet to agree to provide funds for this important project.

The existing National Highway through Albury-Wodonga has become an interim National Highway corridor, to be funded for maintenance and safety improvements only.

The external bypass receives $6.1 million in the 2002-03 Federal Budget.

An environmental report for the New South Wales section should be completed by March 2003, allowing the precise route to be known by October 2003. Construction can start soon after.

Indicative timetable for the Albury-Wodonga bypass

Action Timeframe
Completion of updated environmental report (NSW) July 2001- March 2003
Completion of updated environmental report (Victoria) July 2001- Nov 2003
Planning approval (NSW) October 2003
Letting of tenders (NSW) Early 2004
Construction Early 2004 - late 2006 or early 2007
Open to traffic Late 2006 or early 2007

*The timetable assumes that NSW Government deems acceptable a simplified environmental approval process. Environmental and planning approvals and letting of tenders may occur later in Victoria.

Craigieburn realignment - This project involves realigning 17 km of the Hume Highway from Craigieburn to the Western Ring Road at a cost of around $306 million.

The efficiency of the current National Highway alignment at Craigieburn is hampered by commercial activity that has led to safety concerns and traffic delays. The large scale commercial development has restricted options for improving the road conditions on the current alignment.

Construction of the Craigieburn bypass along the modified Y option plan began in April 2002. It is expected to be completed in 2004-05. The Federal Government is providing $45 million for its construction in 2002-03.

Stringent conditions will protect the natural and cultural significance of the area through which it will pass. The freeway alignment will not cross areas of native grasslands and will run to the west of the Whittlesea Gardens.

In addition to all the measures identified in the Victorian assessment and planning processes, special attention will apply during construction to preserve the Southern Bell Frog's habitat.

Environment Australia must also approve a salvage operation plan for the Striped Legless Lizard population along the Cragieburn corridor and the Grassland Earless Dragon should colonies of this species be located in the Merri Creek floodplain.

A further recommendation requires representatives of the Wurundjeri people, or Kulin Nation, to be present during key phases of construction across land of special significance to them.

The Victorian Government will establish a new regional park along the Merri Creek, from the Ring Road to Craigieburn Road East, and incorporating the Cooper Street and Craigieburn grasslands.

Local roads

Local roads in Victoria will receive $132.7 million in 2002-03 from the Roads to Recovery Programme and untied Local Road Grants.

The $1.2 billion Roads to Recovery Programme is the largest funding injection into local roads by any Federal Government. Local councils, rather than government bureaucrats, are responsible for identifying Roads to Recovery projects, because we recognise that local leaders are best placed to judge the needs of their communities.

Black Spot Programme

The Government has kept its election commitment to continue the Black Spot Programme, which provides funding to improve dangerous locations on Australia's roads. The programme is estimated to have prevented more than 1,500 serious crashes during its first three years of operation. We will spend $180 million nationally on the programme over the next four years.

Victoria will receive $10.4 million in 2002-03 under the Black Spot Programme.