FEDERAL BUDGET: Proactive spend speeds upgrades

Funding for road projects in coming years will fall after government decision to accelerate investment

By Brad Gardner | May 12, 2010

Funding for road projects in the coming years will decline sharply after the Rudd Government decided to bring forward investment in key projects.

Federal budget papers show the Government has significantly accelerated road expenditure this financial year, using resources intended to be spent over the forward estimates to 2013-2014.

A spokesman for Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says the Government is fast-tracking projects to finish them sooner where possible.

"We are making payment to maintain the good momentum," he says.

Rather than delivering expenditure for the Douglas Arterial Road in Queensland between 2010 and 2013 in increments, the Government has pooled resources into a one-off $44 million spend this financial year.

It means the $14 million allocated in 2010-2011 and the $15 million for each of the following financial years for the project will no longer apply.

The Government’s decision to fast-track funding is most significant for the Holbrook Bypass, which was intended to be spread out between 2009 and 2014.

Instead, the bypass has been funded with a one-off $201.5 million hit instead of the staged funding of three $55 million instalments and one $36.5 million payment.

"The Government will bring forward a payment of $201.5 million to 2009-10 for the Holbrook Bypass in order to facilitate early commencement of the project," budget papers say.

Another $500 million was brought forward for the Ipswich Motorway upgrade, which the Government intended to begin next financial year. It had allocated $391.8 million next year and $108.2 the following financial year.

Projects in South Australia and the Northern Territory were also fast-tracked. The South Road Superway was due to begin next year, but the $56 million initiative was brought forward.

"In addition, the Government will bring forward $6 million from 2010-11 to 2009-10 for the Northern Expressway projects in recognition of the imminent completion of the project," budget papers say.

The Tiger Brennan Drive upgrade in the Territory also began a year early, with the $25.1 million funding package made available this financial year.

The payments were made under the Rudd Government’s Nation Building Program, which funds land transport infrastructure.

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