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Roads Australia Insider - 14 August 2020


Westport recommendations get WA Government's green light

The WA Government has endorsed the independent Westport Taskforce's recommended location and design for a future container port at Kwinana.

The final report has recommended a land-backed port be built within the Kwinana Industrial Area, connected by an uninterrupted freight corridor via Anketell Road and Tonkin Highway.

Work will now proceed to determine the timetable of transitioning freight from Fremantle Port to Kwinana. The transition will occur either in one step by 2032 or over a phased period that will see both ports share the freight task for around a further 15 years.

Meantime, work is already underway to finalise designs for an expanded Anketell Road in Perth's south and reserve the area for future infrastructure delivery.

Last year the Westport Taskforce found that even with billions of dollars' worth of road upgrades, the transport network supporting the Fremantle Inner Harbour would reach capacity by the mid-2030s.

The Westport Taskforce has found that a Kwinana container port will need to be operational by around 2032, meaning planning for a future container port must get underway now.

The Government has allocated $97.2 million to progress on the recommended options, to be managed by a new Westport Office established in the Department of Transport.

That work will prioritise:

  • assessing and mitigating environmental impacts;
  • protecting land for future port and supply chain connections; detailed port, road and rail design; and
  • developing a business case for consideration by Infrastructure Australia.

Refreshed national infrastructure pipeline worth more than $64b

Five new road and rail projects have been added to the latest update of the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List from Infrastructure Australia. They are:

High Priority

  • M12 Motorway

  • More Trains, More Services Stage 2
  • Port Botany Rail Line Duplication & Cabramatta Passing Loop (ARTC submission)
  • METRONET: Morley–Ellenbrook Line Project
  • METRONET: High Capacity Signalling Project

Infrastructure Australia CEO, Romilly Madew, says the Priority List has been updated in order to cast a spotlight on a number of new proposals, and to also showcase the extended pipeline of investment, now worth more than $64 billion.

“Australia is planning its recovery from a rolling series of crises: drought, flood, the bushfires and now COVID-19," she said.

"As we look forward, the focus is on delivery and as the nation’s infrastructure advisory body, we are continuing to improve our ability to move quickly to identify investments that will improve productivity - this is about expanding the pipeline, keeping the economy growing, helping to create jobs and attract investment.

“This is the first time we have formally released the Priority List mid-year. By doing so, we want to highlight the most recent priority proposals at a time when our infrastructure investment needs to progress quickly, without jeopardising the quality of those investments.”

Infrastructure Australia is currently calling for submissions for the next formal edition of the Infrastructure Priority List, which will be released in February next year.


Australians were starting to get out and about - and then restrictions tightened

National research conducted before Victoria and other states reimposed tighter COVID restrictions found a rising number of Australians were feeling confident enough to start travelling for social and recreational reasons.

Although conditions have changed dramatically since the survey was conducted, the results are nonetheless a pointer to how quickly Australians might emerge from the COVID crisis once the current restrictions are again relaxed.

Conducted between 30 May and 13 June by the University of Sydney's Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, the survey of over 1,400 Australians suggested the aggregate number of trips had increased by 50 percent since the start of the outbreak, but was still less than two-thirds of pre-COVID-19 figures.

The survey indicated travel by private car had bounced back at a higher rate than other modes of transport, with a 50 percent increase in car trips since the low of the initial outbreak.

The survey results also pointed to two key findings - hygiene on public transport was still a concern, and work from home was here to stay.

The research team undertook the first wave of the survey in April, where they found that more than 80 percent of Australians were concerned about hygiene on public transport. Subsequently, the survey respondents became somewhat more relaxed, though 60 percent still held this concern.

The early survey data also revealed employees were typically working seven to eight hours each day from home, with most reporting they were as productive at home as at the office.

Over two-thirds of respondents had no more than five online meetings per week and found them as productive as face-to-face meetings. 

However, significant barriers to productivity were highlighted, including the need to develop new routines, and interruptions from family members.

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