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A STATE government blueprint for freight networks lists better road maintenance as a critical priority and recognises the south-west’s key role in agriculture, timber and minerals industries.
The Freight State plan released this week also looks at improving rail, port and air infrastructure for freight and logistics towards 2050 and beyond.
While most of the big projects will be geared around expansion of the Port of Melbourne and Port of Hastings, the regional areas rate highly.
The plan says deterioration of the regional road network was a common concern, with some transport companies reporting fleet maintenance cost rises of up to 50 per cent during the past five years due to damage from degrading roads.
“Development and implementation of consistent, targeted road maintenance programs is a critical priority to ensure appropriate levels of service for the freight industry and that the network remains fit for purpose,” the plan said.
“The government is committed to working with industry and councils to enhance the maintenance of the regional arterial road network.”
It said industry co-investment would be considered where appropriate for supply chains.
Bottlenecks including gravel roads, insufficient lanes, narrow roads, low-tonnage bridges and inadequate access to ports will also be tackled.
Road upgrades, particularly timber production districts in south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia, are listed as part of the Green Triangle Freight Transport Program proposal.
Improved links into the Port of Portland, air freight through Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton airports and using more higher mass road trucks on regional roads are also mentioned.
It lists mineral sands exports from northern Victoria to Portland, large components for energy plants, growth in dairy production and strong growth in plantation timber harvests as significant transport movements.
Standardisation of the main Mildura line and some connecting lines would enable mineral sands from southern New South Wales to be railed direct to Portland and Geelong.“The government understands that the freight challenges in regional Victoria are not the same as they are in metropolitan Melbourne,” the report said.
“Transport connections to major ports in Melbourne, Geelong and Portland are critical in facilitating the export of regional Victoria’s commodities.”
Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine said enhancing Victoria’s competitive edge in freight transport was critical to the state economy.
Meanwhile, the RACV has reiterated its call for federal election candidates to commit to funding major road improvements across the state.
This article first appeared on www.standard.net.au
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