Prime Mover Magazine

WA Government urges Commonwealth to commit to high priority road safety program

The Government of Western Australia has secured crucial support for its job-creating Regional Road Safety Program with the country's independent infrastructure advisor calling it a nationally significant priority.

The nine-year road safety package is among a record number of Western Australian projects listed on Infrastructure Australia's 2020 Infrastructure Priority List.

At a cost of $100 million a year, the program would see more than 17,400 kilometres of country roads upgraded with low-cost treatments such as sealed shoulders, audible edge lines and wide centre lines.

Infrastructure Australia (IA) has now recognised the Regional Road Safety Program as a nationally significant, high priority initiative.

The McGowan Government is once again calling for a funding partnership with the Federal Government in order to deliver the $900 million program.

The Premier, Transport Minister and Road Safety Minister have all previously written to the Prime Minister and the Federal Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister seeking their support for the program, however they are yet to provide any commitment.

IA has noted between 2008 and 2017, more than 60 per cent of fatalities and 35 per cent of serious injuries on WA roads occurred in regional and rural areas.

The independent infrastructure advisor also backed the McGowan Government's call for a national, proactive strategy to tackle coastal erosion and protect vulnerable areas.

It has said the strategy, which could include infrastructure such as sea walls and buffer zones, would need to involve all levels of government including the Federal Government.

Premier, Mark McGowan, called for a national response to coastal erosion at the last Council of Australian Governments meeting in August, however, to date, the Federal Government has been reluctant to commit.

"I am pleased to see the Federal Government's own independent infrastructure advisor recognise the Regional Road Safety Program as a nationally significant priority," said McGowan.

"I call on the Federal Government to listen to its experts, take Infrastructure Australia's advice and join WA in funding this Program in order help save lives on country roads.

"All levels of government have a responsibility to improve road safety, and in particular, work to address the number single vehicle road crashes on country roads.

"The strategy would deliver more than 500 jobs every year over the nine-year program.

"These regional job opportunities would be available straight away given construction can commence immediately as the works involved do not have significant environmental impacts or require major reconfigurations to the road.

"Coastal erosion is significant issue facing many communities along the WA coast and as IA points, the risk of flooding and further erosion is only going to grow as the climate changes.

"I am encouraged that the Commonwealth's own independent infrastructure advisor has recognised that all levels of government's have a role in tackling coastal erosion.

"I call on the Federal Government to now listen to IA and work with State and local governments in coming up with a national response to protecting our coastal communities," he said.

Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, said IA has presented a strong case as to why the Federal Government should commit to its $80 million a year share for funding of the Regional Road Safety Program.

"The Federal Government's share of the Regional Road Safety Program could be more than met if it were to redirect the $1.2 billion it has reserved for the uneconomic Roe 8 and 9 project that does nothing to improve safety in regional WA," she said.

"Infrastructure Australia has noted that single vehicle, loss-of-control, run-off-road crashes account for a third of all serious crashes on WA's road network.

"A funding partnership with the Federal Government would help save lives and prevent serious injuries across regional WA.

"Modelling by Main Roads show that a jointly-funded Regional Road Safety program could reduce road trauma in regional WA by 60 per cent."

Road Safety Minister, Michelle Roberts, said there is an over representation of regional and country road incidents on WA roads.

"Creating a safer driving environment on our high-risk roads involves the sealing of shoulders, widening the road and installing safety barriers," said Roberts.

"Each year a significant portion of the Road Trauma Trust Account budget is used for safety treatments on our regional roads, making steady progress.

"A State-Federal partnership would significantly expand these works."

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