Work on the planned Monaro Highway upgrade will start sooner than expected with both the Federal and ACT governments bringing forward funding for the project.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Commonwealth would fast-track $30 million to the 2020-21 financial year as part of its infrastructure reset to boost the national economy, and the ACT would contribute $15 million.
The already announced, jointly funded $200 million project includes widening works and targeted safety upgrades to bust congestion along the corridor.
It will also mean upgrades between Royalla Drive and Williamsdale Road, and upgrades to the Old Cooma Road intersection will be completed in time for the 2020 ski season.
The Monaro Highway is one of the ACT’s most dangerous roads. After 44 crashes including five fatalities on the highway between 2011 and 2016, a black spot study was conducted which identified several safety improvements to reduce the frequency and severity of crashes.
Mr Morrison said the funding would expedite upgrades which increase safety, improve freight productivity and boost tourism.
“By bringing funding forward, we can get on with our infrastructure commitments like the Monaro Highway upgrade which will cut travel times and increase road safety while driving more jobs in the ACT,” the Prime Minister said.
“Delivering critical road and rail projects sooner, as part of our $100 billion infrastructure pipeline, is responsible and considered economic management in partnership with the states and territories.”
Acting ACT Chief Minister Yvette Berry said it was important that the Federal Government contributed funding to infrastructure projects that benefit people living in the national capital and wider region.
Ms Berry said receiving the Australian Government funding sooner would better support planning and expedite construction for the project.
“It is fantastic that the upgrades between Royalla Drive and Williamsdale Road, and upgrades to the Old Cooma Road intersection will now be complete in time for the 2020 ski season,” Ms Berry said.
ACT Minister for Roads and Active Travel Chris Steel said he was especially pleased that the accelerated federal funding would get the Monaro Highway Upgrade done sooner for Canberrans.
“The upgrades will keep Canberrans moving by removing at grade intersections to improve safety, traffic flow and speed along the Monaro, between Isabella Drive and Hindmarsh Drive,” Minister Steel said.
Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja said he was delighted to see the upgrades moving forward, after campaigning for funding to fix congestion and safety issues on the Monaro since 2016.
“In 2016, I committed $1 million to a scoping study into easing congestion for Canberrans on the Monaro and was thrilled to be able to deliver $100 million last year to carry out the recommendations of the study, a commitment I’m pleased has been matched by the ACT Government,” the Senator said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Federal Government recognised the need for key rural roads to receive the upgrades they need to be safer, more efficient transport corridors as soon as possible.
“Not only are we bringing forward $30 million for the $200 million Monaro Highway Upgrade, we are also investing in the Barton Highway, Kings Highway and the William Slim Drive Duplication,” Mr McCormack said.
“These upgrades will improve connectivity for freight and commuters, slashing travel times and getting people home sooner and safer.”