Works to duplicate the notorious stretch of Barton Highway between the ACT border and Yass are being brought forward, with a series of safety measures now underway and a ‘smart’ systems program flagged.
NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey announced at a joint State-Federal press conference at Hall Village Reserve Park on Monday that a decision had been taken to duplicate the highway, although she could not say when actual road works would start or how far initial work would get.
The joint announcement from the Federal and NSW Governments said that all short-term works in the Barton Highway Improvement Strategy would be completed over the next three years and the duplication timetable would be brought forward.
Road users will start seeing tree trimming, adjustments to existing line marking, and updated road signs and safety barriers.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said there was likely to be funding available for a section of the highway to be duplicated and both governments were investigating how much could be achieved.
Ms Pavey said she couldn’t promise that the highway would be duplicated from the ACT border to Murrumbateman, suggesting it may only be five or six kilometres. “We’ll get as far as we possibly can. Then we’ll see in future budget cycles what it is going to take,” Ms Pavey said.
The Duplicate the Barton Highway Community Action Group posted on its Facebook page: “Finally- Melinda Pavey Minister for Roads confirms that duplication is the decision. Existing funds won’t get all the work done – we will still need to campaign for more funds- but the work has begun and RMS have committed to keeping us regularly updated on progress.”
Group convenor Sophie Wade said although the community might not see a shovel in the ground until 2019, the the NSW Government had for the first time committed to the project and started the necessary preliminary work for duplication, and would present a detailed display of the project at next year’s Murrumbateman field days.
Mr Chester said the Federal Government had also approved $3.25 million to pay for intelligent transport systems (ITS) designed to improve trip reliability and to better manage and reduce traffic incidents.
Ms Pavey said these measures could include real-time traffic monitoring, closed circuit television (CCTV) and variable message signs at strategic locations to inform road users of changed traffic conditions.
“ITS and a duplication business case are two of the short-term actions identified as part of the improvement strategy, and the ITS measures in particular offer motorists the prospect of quicker, safer and more reliable trips by helping road users with travel decisions while improving incident management. This is good news for the entire Yass Valley region and is the result of significant stakeholder consultation and community feedback received as part of the improvement strategy,” Ms Pavey said.
NSW Nationals Senator John Williams said up to 12,500 vehicles used the Barton Highway each day, underlining the importance of the corridor.
“The Barton Highway is being used by an increasing number of drivers for either work, school or to access services outside the Yass Valley. More than 8,000 people travel into the ACT for work each day and most of them travel by car, which underlines the importance of these works,” Senator Williams said.
NSW Member for Goulburn Pru Goward said the investments would complement a package of improvement works aimed at improving safety, traffic flow and freight productivity.
“These works will involve installing safety barriers and updated road signs, adjustments to existing line marking and tree trimming. The Barton Highway between Yass and the ACT border is a dangerous stretch of road that has seen 19 fatalities and 258 injuries recorded between 1997 and 2011, so the need to act is clear,” Ms Goward said.
Initial works began in November and are due for completion in mid-2021. The Federal and NSW governments have each committed $50 million to improve road user safety, traffic flow and freight productivity on the Barton Highway.
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