The Federal Government is investing $250 million in initiatives to improve heavy vehicle safety and to keep freight moving.
Applications are now open for the Bridges Renewal Program (BRP) and the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP).
Funding under the BRP and HVSPP reportedly supports the infrastructure needed to ensure freight operators can continue to make essential deliveries as well as keeping communities connected and motorists safe.
This includes projects to upgrade or replace ageing bridges, and for road projects which improve the productivity and safety of heavy vehicle movements across Australia.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Barnaby Joyce, said changes to the program guidelines will give applicants better access to funding, ensuring the road upgrades Australia needs can be funded and delivered.
“Keeping heavy vehicles safe and moving on our roads is key to maintaining a strong economy into the future,” said Joyce.
“Investing $250 million to make bridges safer and heavy vehicle routes more productive will ensure Australian businesses that rely on freight operators can stay connected to international markets while continuing to supply the products Australians need to live.
“Projects funded through these programs also create jobs and opportunities for local suppliers and businesses, delivering an economic boost to local economies and driving their growth.”
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, said as part of the continuous assessment, successful projects would be announced on a rolling basis.
“Both programs are well known and well regarded by state and territory governments and local government authorities,” said Buchholz.
“These improvements will further enhance their ability to deliver safer, more productive bridges and other road infrastructure into the future.”
“Accepting applications on an ongoing basis means state, territory and local governments can plan and submit projects when they are needed.
“This makes these programs easier to access, more flexible and better aligned to the Government’s commitment to invest in strategic priority roads and respond to local community needs.
“Crucially, the revised program guidelines will also see the Australian Government able to invest up to 80 per cent of project costs in regional areas, encouraging the best regional projects to be put forward.
The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement, with NatRoad CEO Warren Clark saying the $250 million committed would need to be applied swiftly.
“Our roads and bridges are the arteries of our road freight system so continually renewing and upgrading them is essential in a country ruled by distance,” Mr Clark said.
“Time and time again, we’ve seen situations where one bridge with an inferior weight tolerance compared to others on a road freight route acts as a bottleneck on productivity.
“Funding an upgrade strategically can make the freight task so much more efficient.”
The Federal Government has more than $760 million locked in for the BRP and $607 million for the HSVPP programs.