INFRASTRUCTURE Australia, the nation's independent infrastructure advisor, last week updated its Infrastructure Priority List to include four additional projects that address Australia's current infrastructure gaps and meet the challenges of the future.
The Infrastructure Priority List identifies nationally significant projects and initiatives in every state and territory. The List is regularly updated as the Infrastructure Australia Board receives and assesses new business cases from project proponents.
Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Philip Davies said the Board had positively assessed business cases for the following four projects:
- M80 Ring Road Upgrade (Victoria)—High Priority Project;
- Perth—Forrestfield Airport Rail Link (Western Australia)—Priority Project;
- Moorebank Intermodal Terminal (New South Wales)—Priority Project; and
- Adelaide-Tarcoola Rail Upgrade (South Australia)—Priority Project.
"Adding these projects to our Infrastructure Priority List demonstrates that they are sound investments that have the potential to address some of the nation's key infrastructure challenges, such as urban congestion and the need to improve national freight connectivity," Mr Davies said.
"Congestion threatens economic growth and living standards and could cost Australia up to $53 billion each year by 2031. The Australian Infrastructure Audit 2015 found that without action, road travel times in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra could increase by at least 20 per cent in the most congested corridors.
"Melbourne's M80 Ring Road Upgrade is identified as a High Priority Project on the updated Infrastructure Priority List as it addresses road congestion on a 38-kilometre freeway used by more than 160,000 vehicles per day.
"The M80 Ring Road Upgrade will provide additional capacity on a vital corridor that connects major population centres in Melbourne's north and west to the CBD, and facilitates access to the city's port, airports and other major roads.
"The Perth—Forrestfield Airport Rail Link will address the lack of public transport access to the eastern region of Perth and Perth Airport, and reduce road congestion in the city's east. Improving public transport access to Perth Airport will help manage ongoing growth, as passenger numbers double over the next 20 years.
"Development of an Intermodal Terminal at Moorebank in Sydney's south-west is part of a long-term strategy to increase the carriage of freight by rail. The updated business case shows this project will provide a significant boost to Sydney's intermodal terminal capacity, allowing for much more freight to be transported to and from Port Botany by rail. Port Botany currently accounts for almost 30 per cent of Australia's container exports and imports, and is projected to continue to grow.
"The Adelaide-Tarcoola Rail Upgrade brings forward the re-railing of 600 kilometres of track originally scheduled to be undertaken over the next 25 years. This will improve capacity on the line between Adelaide and Perth, to support the projected growth in national freight volumes.
"Investment in Australia's national freight network is vitally important if we are to make the most of our population growth and our close proximity to the booming economies of China and South-East Asia. At the national level, the Australian Infrastructure Audit 2015 projected the economic contribution of rail freight services to grow from $5.4 billion in 2011 to $9.5 billion by 2031.
"Australian governments should continue to consult the Infrastructure Priority List to progress initiatives such as these that deliver substantial economic benefits and improved outcomes for infrastructure users around the country," Mr Davies said.