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Boosting road safety on the Hunter Coast

24 November 2023

The Federal Government will be increasing funding available to local councils to maintain and upgrade their local road networks.

The Albanese Labor Government continues to deliver on its commitment to improve road safety on the Hunter Coast of NSW, significantly increasing funding available to local councils to maintain and upgrade their local road networks.

Roads to Recovery (RTR) funding will rise gradually from $500 million to $1 billion per year, and Black Spot funding will increase from the current annual commitment of $110 million to $150 million per year.

The Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) and the Bridges Renewal Program (BRP) will be merged into a new, Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program.

Funding for this new program will gradually increase from the current combined annual investment of the BRP and the HVSPP of $150 million, to $200 million per year.

These programs are already making a significant impact to road quality and safety in NSW communities, with nearly $758 million flowing to NSW councils under R2R. Plus a combined total of more than $440 million has been provided to NSW across the life of the BRP and HVSPP.

For example, the Government is investing over $480,000 under R2R towards the upgrade of the Avenue of the Allies, Tanilba Bay – which is supporting pavement widening, installation of additional drainage, and improved intersection layouts.

Under the BRP, the Government has contributed $150,000 towards the Notts Creek Bridge replacement on Oakendale Road in Glen Oak. The project is expected to be complete by late 2023, and will see the ageing timber bridge replaced with a new concrete structure.

Increased funding will support councils across the Hunter Region to improve road safety in a way that reduces the burden on them, allowing more money to be spent on projects and less on administration.

The changes have been recommended by the Independent Strategic Review of the Infrastructure Investment Program and the increases in funding will be phased in over the forward estimates to avoid putting pressure on inflation, supply costs and the construction labour market.

Roads to Recovery funding is calculated by population and road length – with a consultation process to be undertaken in early 2024 to ensure that any changes to this formula works for local governments, and that funding gets spent where it is needed more quickly.

The Government recognises that local governments require more funding to manage the rising costs and increased pressure on transport infrastructure due to climate change and extreme weather events.

These changes will help ensure funding is stable, predictable and fair into the future.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King:

“Big roads and metropolitan highways might get a lot of the attention, but we spend most of our driving lives on local roads around where we live and where we work.

“Regional road networks have been battered by severe weather events over the last few years. This funding will help councils to fix and maintain our roads.

“This investment will support regional communities, and help move freight to and from our rural production centres.

“This funding increase will give councils certainty and the ability to plan, along with a reduction in the administrative burden.

“We are doing this in a responsible way, to give councils the funding they need while also ensuring the increase doesn’t put pressure on inflation.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain:

“Councils across the Hunter Coast of NSW have all asked for the same thing – more support so that they can better maintain and upgrade their local road networks.

“We’ve listened and will significantly increase the funding available to them – making it easier for councils to progress priority road projects that their communities are calling out for.

“When all levels of government work together, we get better results in our communities, which is why we’ll continue to collaborate with local leaders across the country as we roll out this additional support.”

Quotes attributable to Federal Member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson:

“Councils in Paterson and the Hunter have significant and ageing road networks to maintain – roads that are under more demand than ever as more people chose to live in our regions.

“We drive on local roads every day for school, for sport, and to get to work – and councils are responsible for ensuring that they are safe and fit-for-purpose.

“That is why the Albanese Labor Government is putting more money in their hands – making it easier for councils to get the work done.”

Quotes attributable to Mayor of Port Stephens, Ryan Palmer:

“Every cent counts for local councils, not just in Port Stephens, but across regional communities – because they are calling on us to provide more services than ever before.

“We welcome this additional roads funding from the Albanese Government – because it will play a significant role in how we plan for and deliver the upgrades that locals expect to see.

“The Port Stephens region is fast growing, which is why we want our roads to be ready for the increased demand – whether that’s in residential areas, or some of our key tourist routes – and this extra funding will help us do just that.”