Labor has committed to duplicating the Barton Highway between the NSW/ACT border and Murrumbateman, in a $250 million election pledge that trumps the Coalition by $100 million.
In a joint statement, Opposition infrastructure and transport spokesperson Anthony Albanese and Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly said full duplication would improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion on a notorious stretch of road that is used by 12,500 vehicles a day, including about 1000 trucks.
The Barton Highway links the southern and western areas of NSW to the ACT, running 52 kilometres between Canberra and the Hume Highway, near Yass, and is a vital commuter link between the Yass Valley and the national capital.
“Increasing traffic volumes have led to increasing levels of traffic accidents on the highway, so a Shorten Labor Government would work with the New South Wales Government to expedite the duplication in the interests of road safety,” the pair said.
They said the project would also boost productivity by facilitating quicker movement of road freight around the region.
The pair said average annual investment in the Barton Highway had fallen from $5.4 million under the former Federal Labor Government to $1.7 million under the Coalition.
“The chaotic Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has cut road investment in regional Australia and attempted to conceal the cuts with promises of investment that it has pushed off into the never-never,” they said.
“There is no better example of the unfair cuts inflicted by the Liberal and National Parties than the Barton Highway.
“Only a Shorten Labor Government can be relied upon to invest in the road infrastructure regional Australia needs to not only boost productivity and drive economic development, but also to deliver safe driving conditions for motorists, truck drivers and other road users.”