One of the big-ticket items for the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla in last night’s Federal Budget was announced 24 hours earlier on April Fools Day – the Morrison Government has committed $500 million to upgrade the Princes Highway between Wollongong and the Victorian border.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack says, “decisions on priority projects will be in consultation with the New South Wales Government and be informed by the Princes Highway Corridor Strategy.”
The project will be funded on an 80:20 basis with the NSW Berejiklian Government, who during the recent State Election campaign announced funding that takes their investment in the highway to more than $2.4 billion.
In the next term of government, the NSW Coalition has committed to:
- Duplicate sections of the Princes Highway from Jervis Bay Road to Sussex Inlet Road;
- Build the Moruya Bypass;
- Start detailed planning work for the Milton and Ulladulla Bypass and upgrades for the Princes Highway from Burrill Lake to Batemans Bay.
Ultimately, the NSW Liberal-Nationals Government says it plans to duplicate the entire Princes Highway between Nowra and the Victorian border. An investment estimated to be more than $15 billion across the next 20 years.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes has welcomed the Federal commitment and is calling on the Shorten opposition to match the funding.
“We just want the Australian Government to do its bit to fix our highways, which are the life-blood of our regional communities,” she says.
“This is about saving lives and we’re calling on bipartisan support from both sides of the federal government to allocate the funding and get on with the job.”
Between July 2012 and June 2017, there were 1494 crashes on the Princes Highway between Jervis Bay Road and the Victorian Border, resulting in 30 fatalities and 350 serious injuries. Between December 2017 and June 2018, eight more people lost their lives on the Highway south of Nowra.
Public submissions on the plan that will determine upgrade priorities are open now but close on April 12.
The Princes Highway Corridor Strategy “will develop an evidence base to underpin a ‘whole-of-corridor’ perspective of the current and future role of the Princes Highway,” according to the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
“It will support meaningful engagement with industry and key stakeholders and provide the evidence necessary to allow governments to make informed investment decisions.”
While locals at Mogo, Tuross, Cobargo, Pambula and other local villages only see short sections of the road in their day to day travels, the Highway stretches from Sydney to Port Augusta in South Australia. Excluding capital cities, over 1 million people live in local government areas along the way.
Working with the NSW, Victorian and South Australian Governments, the Strategy will be finalised mid-2019.
An issues paper developed by consultancy firm GHD Advisory points to narrow bridges, limited overtaking opportunities, speed inconsistencies and frequent speed changes, lack of sealed shoulders for cyclists, tourists within certain hotspots leading to delays, connections with rail, air and seaports, risk of temporary road closures due to flood/fire/landslide, B-double accessibility the entire length, and environmental interfaces with National Parks.
Where do you want to see the spending start?