$70m boost promised for freight roads

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Mr Baylis on Burley Street.
Camera IconMr Baylis on Burley Street. Credit: Picture: Michael Traill, Michael Traill.

The Federal Government has committed $70 million to develop freight routes in the Wheatbelt.

The funding, announced last week in Bindoon by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, will be committed through the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Route.

Eighty connecting routes with more than 4400km of roads across the Wheatbelt are within the 42 local agencies, including the Shire of Narrogin, that make up the WSFR. “WA’s Wheatbelt is a powerhouse of productivity — and the Liberals and Nationals are investing to build the safer roads locals and transport operators deserve,” Mr McCormack said.

“Funded under our Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, this investment recognises the contribution of the Wheatbelt to feeding Australia and the world and creating jobs and opportunities in the region for Australians. That’s why we are investing in the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network, because (of) its contribution to the national and Western Australian economy, to help get freight moving more efficiently.”

O’Connor MP Rick Wilson said he had worked closely with local governments in the Wheatbelt to secure funding for the network.

“Last year in Canberra I hosted a delegation from shires in the Wheatbelt, led by Brookton Shire president Katrina Crute, and I was able to facilitate meetings with key ministers to pitch the proposal,” Mr Wilson said. “Grain production and haulage is the lifeblood of Wheatbelt communities and it’s critically important for people in those communities that the Government invest in a safer, more efficient road network.”

A Highbury local has been campaigning for changes to freight routes. George Baylis said some months up to 20 trucks hauling grain or hay pass his Burley Street property daily, disregarding the 50km/h speed limit.

“It’s 80km/h at the top end but when you get down to our end it’s 50km/h,” he said.

“Road trains and semis all come through here carting hay, crops and even a bulldozer the other day, all in the excess of 30 to 40 tonnes.

“I’d say one in 10 slows down to 50km/h ...and then you’ve got your cowboys who insist on using their exhaust brakes because they make twice as much noise and it sounds good.”

A former truck driver himself, Mr Burley said he has taken to issue to the Shire of Narrogin, Mainroads WA and Police, to enforce the 50 kmp/h speed limit.

“They won’t slow down, so put a speed hump-up where the 50km sign is,” he said.

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