The upgrading of roads to accommodate the higher volumes of heavy vehicles associated with the mining industry and growth in tourism is a major focus of the Goldfields-Esperance Regional Road Development Strategy, released today by Transport Minister Eric Charlton.
A flourishing tourism industry, particularly in the southern part of the region, has meant an increase in the overall mix of large and small vehicles, prompting the need for wider seals on many of the major routes and the provision of overtaking lanes.
The strategy is the final in a series of eight regionally focused reports prepared by Main Roads in conjunction with local government as part of the ROADS 2020 program. ROADS 2020 takes road and integrated transport planning through to the year 2020.
Mr Charlton said the strategy reflected widespread community opinion on the importance of the region's economy in terms of its value to the State and nation.
"The region is the State's largest and its road network one of the longest, servicing the needs of the mining, pastoral, agricultural and tourism industries and Aboriginal communities," he said.
"Proposals in the strategy for the upgrading and development of roads have taken these differing needs into account and have sought to plan for an appropriate standard of road for each interest group.
"The National Highway link with the Eastern States passing through the region adds a further dimension to the freight and tourism traffic, with a significant portion of this traffic branching off onto the state and local road network.
"Overall, the Goldfields-Esperance regional road network tends to carry a higher proportion of heavy vehicles. The strategy recognises this and it is reflected in the road upgrading proposals."
Key road development projects identified in the preparation of the strategy include:
· sealing of the Agnew-Leinster Road;
· reconstruction on widening of sections on the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway;
· reconstruction and sealing of the Lake Raeside section of Goldfields Highway including construction of a bridge;
· construction and sealing of the Mt Keith-Wiluna section of Goldfields Highway;
· upgrading of Bulong and Broad Arrow-Ora Banda Roads to sealed standard;
· construction of a second carriageway on Anzac Drive;
· development of Great Central Road as part of an alternate interstate route between Western Australia and Queensland;
· ongoing review of the level of demand for an upgraded Balladonia-Esperance link and a Norseman west route; and -
· reconstruction and widening of several roads in the Esperance area including Fisheries Road, Twilight Beach Road, Cape Le Grand Road and Merivale Road which have a major role for agriculture and tourism in the area.
While the strategy mainly focuses on roads of regional significance in the Goldfields-Esperance Region, it also looks at how this network inter-connects with similar roads in the adjoining regions.
"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 is one of the most efficient ways of improving economic performance. Road investments create new jobs through industry development opportunities, increased industry competitiveness and productivity, and help improve the standard of living for the community."
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 new industry, population shifts, different heavy vehicle configurations, changes in agricultural practices and tourist patterns.
Media contact: Doug Cunningham 08 9321 7333