Chester spruiks bridge renewal plan
Third round of investment announced as Albanese points to spending cut
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”