Ch­ester spruiks bridge re­newal plan

Third round of in­vest­ment an­nounced as Al­banese points to spend­ing cut

Australian Transport News - - Contents -

THE THIRD ROUND of the gov­ern­ment’s Bridges Re­newal Pro­gram will see re­place­ment or up­grade of 186 bridges across Aus­tralia, fed­eral in­fra­struc­ture and trans­port min­is­ter Dar­ren Ch­ester an­nounced last month.

The pro­ject is part of the gov­ern­ment’s $75 bil­lion in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment plan that has seen more than 200 projects ei­ther un­der­way or com­pleted across the coun­try.

Ch­ester says the gov­ern­ment will spend a to­tal of $162.53 on these up­grades, with fed­eral fund­ing lim­ited to $ 5 mil­lion per pro­ject.

“The bridges re­newal pro­gram gives lo­cal, state and ter­ri­tory gov­ern­ments the sup­port they need to re­place and up­grade key bridges,” Ch­ester says.

“This new fund­ing is in ad­di­tion to the $216 mil­lion al­ready com­mit­ted un­der the fi rst two rounds of the pro­gram, which has seen 201 bridge projects be­ing up­graded or com­pleted.

“The up­grade of these bridges will im­prove driv­ing con­di­tions for res­i­dents and lo­cal freight op­er­a­tors by de­liv­er­ing safer and more pro­duc­tive bridges that are fit for pur­pose.”

How­ever, the fund­ing an­nounce­ment has re­ceived fl ak from fed­eral op­po­si­tion trans­port spokesper­son An­thony Al­banese, who says the gov­ern­ment has in­vested $80 mil­lion less than promised four years back.

Al­banese points to then Na­tion­als leader War­ren Truss’ prom­ise that the Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment would spend $180 mil­lion over its fi rst four years in of­fice up­grad­ing bridges in re­gional and ru­ral ar­eas.

He says while the Coali­tion has led to “end­less cuts” to La­bor-backed in­fra­struc­ture pro­grams, it is now mak­ing cuts to its own sig­na­ture pro­gram.

“The Bridges Re­newal Pro­gram was a good idea,” Al­banese says.

“Im­prov­ing old bridges in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas would dra­mat­i­cally im­prove road safety and boost pro­duc­tiv­ity. But the Gov­ern­ment has failed to back its rhetoric with the nec­es­sary in­vest­ment.”

Truss fi rst spoke of the Bridges Re­newal Pro­gram in 2010, with a $300 mil­lion spend level pro­posed.

“The up­grade of these bridges will im­prove driv­ing con­di­tions for res­i­dents and lo­cal freight op­er­a­tors”

Dar­ren Ch­ester

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