Infrastructure Australia has released the results of its independent evaluation of whether the Townsville Ring Road Stage 5 project would remain on its Infrastructure Priority List.
The industry body determined that the project itself would remain a priority, but called for an updated business case to address road capacity and safety through Townsville.
Chief Executive of Infrastructure Australia, Romilly Madew, explained that Infrastructure Australia had long supported the need to improve road capacity and safety along the Bruce Highway.
‘It is important to note, that despite not identifying the current business case as a priority project on our Infrastructure Priority List, the Townsville Ring Road remains on our Priority List as part of a nationally-significant program Initiative, which is why we welcome an updated business case that addresses our concerns,’ Ms Madew said.
The current business case, submitted to Infrastructure Australia by the Queensland Government, consists of two major components:
- Duplication of a six-kilometre section of the Townsville Ring Road between Vickers Bridge and Shaw Road (the last remaining two-lane section of the Townsville Ring Road)
- Interchange works to provide a new connection to the Ring Road at Beck Drive, and changes to the configuration of the existing Riverway Drive interchange
Infrastructure Australia’s final determination found that completing the Ring Road should be retained as part of a program Initiative on the Priority List, but that the combined proposal could not be added to the list of projects without an approved business case at this time.
This decision was based on both major components of the project and not solely on the upgrade to the Ring Road.
‘Our evaluation of the business case found that completing the Townsville Ring Road to a consistent four-lane standard would improve transport efficiency, travel-time reliability and safety on this section of the road,” Ms Madew said.
“However, the evidence in the business case showed that the major intersection upgrades at Beck Drive and Riverway Drive significantly add to the costs of the project, while delivering only marginal benefits to the community.”
A new Beck Drive interchange is intended to facilitate residential development south of the Townsville Ring Road, however the business case stated that the interchange may not be required for another 16 years, in terms of traffic capacity.
“Deferring the expensive interchange works until they are needed would mean the Townsville Ring Road could still be completed, as well as enabling funding for other critical projects that are needed now,” Ms Madew said.
The Priority List is a collaborative document, developed using data from the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit and submissions from all levels of governments, industry and the community.