Infrastructure Priority List casts welcome spotlight on road maintenance and resilience challenges
Infrastructure Australia released its updated Infrastructure Priority List this week, with Roads Australia welcoming a renewed focus on road maintenance and resilience.
“The recent bushfire crisis has underscored the critical importance of having a well-maintained regional road network,” RA President Michael Bushby said on Wednesday.
“It’s not just a question of vehicle and road-user safety, but ongoing access. For many bushfire-affected communities, there’s just one or two roads in or out. Maintaining those roads for maximum accessibility in emergency situations can, quite literally, be a matter of life and death.”
Mr Bushby said the biggest impact of bushfires on the road network is not so much damage to the pavement but the roadside infrastructure and flora – signage, safety barriers and trees that pose a danger of falling on the roadway. On many local roads, vulnerable timber bridges can also be threatened - restricting access for firefighting and subsequent clean-up and ongoing community access.
“You will never make the road network completely fireproof. But with the increasing severity of bushfire events, we must be more proactive in managing our rural road corridors so we can minimise damage and enable them to be reopened more quickly,” Mr Bushby said.
“The impact of flooding is, in many ways, even more problematic. In the likelihood that we will see more frequent and severe flood events, we need to step up our investment in flood-proofing of ‘at risk’ corridors by rebuilding and elevating or even realigning existing roadways.”
More broadly, Mr Bushby said all state and territory governments needed to spend more on road maintenance, particularly in regional areas.
“Less than a third of Australians live in regional and remote areas, but nearly two thirds of all fatal road crashes occur on rural and remote roads,” he said.
“One of the biggest causes of fatalities and serious injuries on rural roads is single-vehicle lane departure – either running off the road or into on-coming traffic.
“It’s been shown that treatments such as sealing of road shoulders and installing audible edge lines can substantially reduce these types of crashes.
“Recurrent maintenance and renewal is often the ‘poor cousin’ of transport spending. The longer we defer essential maintenance and renewal spending, the more it will cost us in the long-run – both in dollars and lives.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said IA’s List gives governments across Australia independent, expert input on where they should be directing infrastructure spending.
“The 2020 Infrastructure Priority List delivers the largest list of projects to date – including 147 nationally significant proposals across a range of sectors including transport, energy, water, communications, housing and education and about $58 billion worth of projects,” Mr McCormack said.
“This year’s list provides a new snapshot to guide infrastructure investment across the nation over the next 15 years.”
Register your interest for RA’s 2020 Study Visit
Building on the success of the European leg of our 2017 international study visit, RA will again lead a delegation this September to learn about the latest developments in safety, efficiency and mobility in the UK and the Continent.
Our 2020 Study Visit will take place from September 14 to 21 and will include top level meeting and briefings with the leaders of key transport agencies and other mobility stakeholders in the UK, France and the Netherlands.
The study visit concludes with the option to attend the InnoTrans Trade Fair (International Trade Fair for Transport Technology) in Berlin.
This year’s visit will again be limited to approximately 20 participants. While the final program details are still being confirmed, you can register your interest in attending by emailing our CEO Michael Kilagriff.
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