The $12 million Ludlow deviation on the Bussell Highway was officially opened today by Transport Minister Eric Charlton, who said the new road would provide a safer and more efficient route between Bunbury and Busselton.
The Minister said the 16-kilometre deviation, with bridges over the Ludlow, Abba and Sabina Rivers, would cater for increasing volumes of tourist traffic and heavy haulage.
"The route is a new, high standard two lane road which provides three north bound passing lanes and two south bound," Mr Charlton said.
"The design also allows for construction of a dual carriageway in the future when traffic flow warrants extra capacity.
"The Government's objective is to provide a four lane dual carriageway through what is a scenic coastal corridor, linking the Perth metropolitan area with the commercial and tourism centres of the South-West."
Mr Charlton said the multi-million-dollar upgrade of the coastal route from Perth to Bunbury and Busselton would be accelerated under the State's $1 billion road expansion and improvement program.
"Without this additional funding program, vital projects like the Perth-Busselton Highway would languish for many years to come," Mr Charlton said.
"The Commonwealth's failure to return adequate funding from Federal fuel excise revenue of which Western Australian road users contribute nearly $800 million annually, has meant WA must take a greater hand in providing for its own needs."
The Minister said the highway carried about 4,000 vehicles per day between Busselton and Perth, and that traffic flows would increase in response to economic growth in the South-West.
He said tourism and mineral production appeared to be the biggest growth areas and that the road freight task was increasing in WA at the rate of 10 per cent annually.
Mining was generating wealth of nearly $800 million per annum with a number of important new projects due to come on stream, and tourism was worth about $170 million annually.
Up to 700,000 people visited the South-West each year, which accounted for about 30 per cent of the State's tourism industry.
Mr Charlton said apart from the new route providing better access to and from the South-West for tourists, the old road it was replacing would remain as a specific tourist route into the Ludlow Forest National Park.
"The old road will provide access to more than 2,000 hectares of unique forest," he said.
"The opening of Ludlow deviation is a part of a long-term plan which will see the community benefit from a road network that meets the needs of all road users.
"Dual carriageways and town bypasses will provide safer road user environments for through traffic and heavy haulage while at the same time meeting the demands for transport efficiencies and reduced travel times.
"In addition, local traffic management will be improved and tourist needs will be met."
To assist the mining sector further and enhance road safety, Mr Charlton said plans were well in hand for the Sues Road project.
He said contractual arrangements were being finalised for the construction of the road, which was scheduled to start next summer. The 38 kilometre Sues Road will service mineral sands mines at Beenup and Jangardup South, providing a transport route to the Port of Bunbury.
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