Expressions of interests are now being accepted for the tender for the first stage of the Barton Highway upgrade which will duplicate the highway from the ACT border towards Murrumbateman, with an emphasis on achieving the greatest duplication distance possible.
The Barton Highway, which links Canberra to Murrumbateman and the Hume Highway at Yass, has consistently been rated as one of the worst and most dangerous roads in NSW and the ACT in the NRMA’s annual Seeing Red on Roads survey.
The single-lane highway in NSW has been the scene of deaths and serious injury, and is often blocked after accidents with traffic having to be diverted through McIntosh Circuit in Murrumbateman. Yass Valley community groups have called for the duplication and safety improvements for over a decade.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the upgrade would improve the safety and traffic flow of the highway.
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“The Barton Highway is a critical link connecting communities on the Southern Tablelands in NSW and the ACT. This upgrade will significantly improve safety as well as journey reliability, ease congestion and boost freight productivity,” he said.
The Australian and NSW governments have each committed $50 million each to the project over the next four years, while an additional $100 million is set aside for the upgrade under the federal Roads of Strategic Importance initiative from the 2018-19 Budget.
NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said both Governments wanted to maximise the length of road that is able to be duplicated under the program, and for local firms to be involved in the project to help boost the economy and provide jobs in the drought-stricken region.
“We are encouraging industry to be innovative to achieve the greatest distance of duplicated highway and deliver value for money while ensuring a focus on safety,” Mr Toole said.
“We also want to make sure that there are opportunities for the local workforce from communities along the length of the duplication to participate, to provide employment during tough drought times, so we’ll be looking to partners that can provide that.”
ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja said the request for tender was planned for early 2020.
Upcoming work is also set to include a $3.25 million investment in “intelligent transport systems” to help improve reliability and safety.
The member for Goulburn, Wendy Tuckerman, said the upgrades would help better manage and reduce traffic incidents.
“Permanent variable message signs, with fog detection systems, real travel time capabilities and closed-circuit television monitoring will be installed at the northern and southern approaches of the Barton Highway,” she said.
A Review of Environmental Factors (REF) is set to be finalised in the coming months as planning continues for the duplication of the remaining sections of the highway, including upgrades at Gooda Creek Road and Vallencia Drive.