WRF: 'This isn't enough to fix the Tanami'
FIXING Australian roads is a seriously expensive undertaking, everyone knows that.
But more often than not, the funding allocated for certain projects is not quite enough to really fix the roads properly.
Someone who understands this more than most is Western Roads Federation chief executive officer Cam Dumesny, who has hit out at the government's allocation for the Tanami Road, a road which runs between the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory and the Great Northern Highway in Western Australia and is the most direct route from Alice Springs to the Kimberley and is 20 percent bitumen and the remainder dirt and gravel.
"At last estimate, the cost to complete the sealing of the Tanami was $605 million," he said.
"So whilst the $115 million in funding is welcomed, it is still well short of what is needed.
"Before anyone says 'oh that is expensive', think about this: the current cost of just one kilometre of Sydney's West Connex freeway is $515 million (designed to save commuters a couple of minutes or so) or for the cost of one kilometre of West Connex we can open up an area twice the size of Victoria."
Mr Dumesny's comments come after The Shire of Halls Creek told ABC Kimberley that the latest injection of funding from the state budget would allow plans to seal the Tanami Road to begin moving ahead.
The ABC reported the Shire had already received $75 million from the Federal Government, but was relying on the $40 million announced last week to push the project forward.
Mr Dumesny said sealing of the Tanami meant that there would be more road freight opportunities available as mining and other projects could become viable and there would be a major reduction in maintenance costs for transport operators.
He said if the road was sealed, an alternative over size over mass route was opened to the east if required, which would become of greater value when the Plenty Highway (from Alice Springs to Winton) was also sealed.
"It also means a new life for Wyndham as a bulk export port and therefore new opportunities for our transport members in the region who connect to or service the port and the community," he said.
"Defence has a second major supply route across the north, from its bases in the east to north west Western Australia (an area that generates over 40 percent of the nations export wealth.
"Currently in the wet, the only road route for the Brigades in Townsville and Brisbane is via Port Augusta in South Australia, then across the paddock to WA before heading north.