Infrastructure briefly took a backseat in federal funding to road safety this week during the announcement of the forthcoming Budget.
In good news for road safety advocates, vulnerable road users and regional truck drivers, an additional $1 billion was pledged to the Road Safety Program, which as a result has been extended an extra 12 months to June 2023.
The investment, which will see 6,000 kilometres of road upgraded, builds on the previous $2 billion over 18 months announced for the Road Safety Program as part of last year’s Budget including $500 million for the Targeted Road Safety Works, an initiative announced in June last year.
To date, the Road Safety Program has seen almost $1 billion delivered through tranche 1 for nearly 700 road safety projects due for completion by June this year.
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said this additional $1 billion investment would support further tranches of the program.
“The Road Safety Program is aimed at delivering lifesaving road safety upgrades on rural and regional roads and providing better protections for vulnerable road users,” Assistant Minister Buchholz said.
“Vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas will be better protected through road safety upgrades to include traffic calming, separated cycleways and installing raised pedestrian crossings,” he said.
“This investment complements a suite of other Australian Government initiatives such as investment in driver reviver upgrades, innovative road safety technologies and education campaigns.”
Long overdue upgrades to state highways and arterial roads will incorporate shoulder sealing and the installation of rumble strips to support the safe return of vehicles from the shoulder into the travel lane.
More physical barriers will prevent run off road crashes and median treatments to mitigate against head-on vehicle collisions are also a priority under the program.
Under the Road Safety Program all states and territories receive a national allocation of funding under a “use it or lose it” provision.
States and territories are required to use their funding within each six-month tranche in order to receive their full allocation of funding for the next tranche.
The resulting unallocated funds will be placed in a pool, with jurisdictions which spend their allocation able to seek further funds from this pool.
As a condition of funding, States and Territories are also required to provide road safety data to the Federal Government.