Infrastructure Australia names additional priority projects

The Parkes Bypass in New South Wales and the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge upgrade in Canberra have been added to the Infrastructure Priority List.

Each year Infrastructure Australia releases a list of infrastructure opportunities for the near, medium and long term.

This year the organisation released a mid-year list for the first time highlighting projects set to boost the economy during Australia’s COVID-19 recovery.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew said the organisation has been working collaboratively with Australia’s governments to provide advice on a staged response for managing, and recovering from, the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One critical element of our advice is to maintain a pipeline of nationally-significant infrastructure investments which have strong strategic merit and clear community benefits,” she said.

“With the addition of two new Priority Projects – Parkes Bypass and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge – the Infrastructure Priority List now showcases more than $65 billion worth of nationally-significant investment opportunities for governments at all levels to choose from.”

The Parkes Bypass is a proposed $175 million project involving the construction of a 10.5 kilometre bypass along the Newell Highway. It will include bridges over existing railway lines, connections to the Parkes Special Activation Precinct and upgrades to local roads.

“Within New South Wales, the Newell highway plays a critical role servicing local traffic and consumer freight, and carries a significant volume of agricultural commodities from farms and other producers. Up to 4,500 vehicles travel along the Newell Highway through Parkes each day, of which 15-25 per cent are heavy vehicles – creating significant safety risks for the local community,” Madew said.

She said the benefit to cost ratio of 1.2 makes Parkes Bypass a nationally-significant investment opportunity that will move heavy vehicles out of the town and ensure local goods get to market as quickly and safely as possible.

The Commonwealth Avenue Bridge upgrade proposal outlines a $127.4 million project which will deliver critical safety improvements to the bridge. It would also enable the bridge to form part of the corridor for the planned extension of the Canberra Metro light rail network.

“Commonwealth Avenue Bridge is one of the busiest transport assets in Canberra. Built in 1963, the Bridge reached design capacity more than three years ago, carrying an average of 7,320 vehicles during the morning peak hour. With traffic demand forecast to increase by 25 per cent over the next 15 years, its current structural issues are expected to worsen,” Madew said.

She said an upgrade would extend the design life by 50 years and offer improved travel times and safety benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

“With stated a benefit-cost ratio of 2.65, it represents a sound strategic investment with benefits for the broader Australian economy.”

Both of these projects are advanced proposals with a fully developed business case which has been positively assessed by the independent Infrastructure Australia Board. They remain on the Priority List until construction begins.

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