Road issues emphasising economic, safety, social and tourism needs in the State's Wheatbelt region have been highlighted in the latest Regional Road Development Strategy, released today in Merredin by Transport Minister Eric Charlton.
Mr Charlton said the issues were highlighted during the community consultation phase of compiling the strategy, and much had been included to help set future directions for road and related transport planning.
"The need to upgrade the existing road network was strongly supported," he said.
"Wider sealed roads and increased passing opportunities were issues raised in many of the submissions.
"The need to improve roads to the many tourist destinations was also a major focus, given the expanding tourism industry throughout the region."
The Wheatbelt Regional Road Development Strategy is the sixth report in the ROADS 2020 series, which covers the State's eight rural regions.
Key road development projects identified in the strategy include:
· construction of the first stage carriageway on the Northam Bypass and widening of Great Eastern Highway between Meenaar and Walgoolan;
· construction and sealing of the Armadale-Ravensthorpe Route between Hyden and Lake King and the construction of passing lanes between the metropolitan area boundary and Brookton;
· construction of Albany Highway to improve the vertical alignment between Bedfordale and Wandering turn-off and the provision of passing lanes;
· commence construction to improve the East-West Heavy Haulage routes:- Lancelin-Calingiri-Goomalling and Lancelin-Bindoon-Northam;
· construction and sealing of the Lancelin-Jurien Road to complete the Coastal Route, Perth to Dongara;
· construction and sealing of the Narrogin Link Road to provide an alternative route for heavy vehicles, thus avoiding the main street;
· reconstruction, widening and provision of passing lanes between Gidgegannup and Toodyay;
· realignment and widening of sections of Great Northern Highway between Muchea and Wubin, including an alternative route around Dalwallinu for heavy vehicles;
· reconstruction, widening and provision of passing lanes on sections of Brand Highway between Muchea and the region boundary;
· widening of the narrow seal sections of Bullfinch Road;
· widening Cervantes Road;
· realignment and widening of sections of Chidlow-York Road;
· widening of sections of Lancelin Road;
· widening the Midlands Road north of Moora;
· widening Northam-Pithara Road;
· upgrading and widening Northam-Toodyay Road; and -
· widening Wongan Hills-Calingiri Road.
The ROADS 2020 program is a co-operative venture between Main Roads Western Australia and local government which is aimed at meeting the needs of road users to the year 2020.
Mr Charlton said the wheatbelt strategy reflected widespread community opinion on the earlier publication of a draft report.
"The strategy focuses on roads of regional significance in the region and looks at the development of this network and how it inter-connects with similar roads in the adjoining regions," he said.
"The strategy is intended to help guide State and local government decision making on the investment of road funds."
Mr Charlton said investment in roads was one of the most efficient ways of improving economic performance.
"Road investment creates new industry development opportunities, increases industry competitiveness and productivity, generates new jobs and improves the standard of living for the community," he said.
The strategy is to be reviewed on a regular basis to respond to changing needs in the region which may occur as a result of such things as new industry, new farming methods, changes in road transport vehicle configurations, tourist activity and population shifts.
Media contact: Nicole Trigwell 08 9321 7333