Seriously, it's time to fix the Trans Access Road
THE state of the Trans Access Road that runs through several large stations in the Nullarbor is so bad that outback operators are questioning whether conducting business on it is a viable option.
And when a 500km trip takes up to 16 hours for a road train to travel down it - a trip that took only eight hours a few years ago - can you blame them?
The Trans Access Road begins just east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and extends due east, following the railway line until the West Australian and South Australian border.
Driver and owner of Nullarbor Transport Greg Campbell said the biggest problem was trying to keep up with the general maintenance of trucks, with the road causing wire breakages, broken chassis and cattle crate frameworks, among other things.
He said while he and many other drivers had complained about the state of the road, he felt their words fell on deaf ears.
But local MP Kyran O'Donnell said he and City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder chief executive John Walker were fighting to have the road classified under the Federal Government's Roads of Strategic Importance Initiative, which would give them access to the proper funding needed to actually fix the road.
He said it wasn't a matter of the City "not caring” but that they didn't have enough funds to get the job done.
He said if the road was properly sealed, not only would it be beneficial to the transport operators who drove the road but it could also help turn the Nullarbor into a tourism destination.
Mr Walker said the road was relied upon by a diverse group of road users and it was essential they were able to safely traverse it.
He said the City had allocated more than $2.4million over the next three years to the maintenance and upgrade of the Trans Access Road.
"We have met with the road users out on the Trans Access Road and we are changing the way we do things out there,” he said.
"We are looking forward to having greater collaboration between the pastoralists and the City in managing the ongoing maintenance of the road, including contracting some of the maintenance works to them as the primary users of the road, as they are most aware of when certain areas will require maintenance.”
Western Roads Federation boss Cam Dumesny said the state of the Trans Access Road reflected a common problem across many of WA's remote regional freight routes.
"They rely on local government funding for maintenance, who often have competing local priorities for the funds that usually results in secondary freight routes becoming a poor cousin, especially in the more remote parts of the state,” he said.
A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government had already committed a substantial investment of $755 million towards corridors across WA under ROSI.
ROSI upgraded regional roads and inter-regional and interstate highways that addressed pinch points and other impediments to freight movements, connect regional communities and improve safety, the spokesperson said.
"If the WA Government considers the Trans Access Road a priority, it can put it forward for consideration for possible federal funding,” they said.