Infrastructure Australia has added two projects from NSW and ACT to the Infrastructure Priority List, to support the national infrastructure-led COVID recovery.

The construction of Parkes Bypass on the New South Wales Newell Highway and the upgrade of Canberra’s Commonwealth Avenue Bridge have both been named Priority Projects.

Designed to ensure Australia’s major infrastructure investments deliver lasting economic benefits, the Infrastructure Priority List is a pipeline of nationally-significant investment opportunities for the near, medium and long term.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, said, “The Infrastructure Priority List provides a robust and comprehensive infrastructure pipeline to guide our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure Australia is ready for future challenges. 

“Infrastructure Australia has been working collaboratively with Australia’s governments to provide advice on a staged response for managing, and recovering from, the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One critical element of our advice is to maintain a pipeline of nationally-significant infrastructure investments which have strong strategic merit and clear community benefits.

“With the addition of two new Priority Projects – Parkes Bypass and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge – the Infrastructure Priority List now showcases more than $65 billion worth of nationally-significant investment opportunities for governments at all levels to choose from.”

Parkes Bypass

The NSW Government’s proposed $172 million Parkes Bypass project involves construction of a 10.5km bypass along the Newell Highway, including bridges over existing railway lines, connections to the Parkes Special Activation Precinct and upgrades to local roads.

Connecting Melbourne and Brisbane, the Newell Highway is a vital freight corridor for consumer, manufacturing and agricultural goods. 

The existing highway runs directly through the Parkes town centre, which contributes to congestion and safety risks in the town and limits the ability of high performance freight vehicles to use the corridor.

The Parkes Bypass is expected to help remove heavy vehicle traffic from the town and improve connectivity between local producers and the Parkes Special Activation Precinct, which is being established to leverage the Inland Rail project.

“Within New South Wales, the Newell highway plays a critical role servicing local traffic and consumer freight, and carries a significant volume of agricultural commodities from farms and other producers,” Ms Madew said.

“Up to 4,500 vehicles travel along the Newell Highway through Parkes each day, of which 15-25 per cent are heavy vehicles – creating significant safety risks for the local community.

“With a stated benefit-cost ratio of 1.2, Parkes Bypass is a nationally-significant investment opportunity that will help move these vehicles out of the town centre and importantly, as we officially enter a recession, ensure local goods get to market as quickly and safely as possible.”

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge

Proposed by the Federal Government, the $124.9 million upgrade to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge will deliver critical safety improvements to an iconic and critical part of Canberra’s transport infrastructure.

The proposal includes structural upgrades to meet modern safety requirements and accommodate the increasing number of vehicles and active transport users travelling on the bridge.  

The bridge forms part of the corridor for the planned extension of the Canberra Metro light rail network, which would be assessed under a separate business case.

“Commonwealth Avenue Bridge is one of the busiest transport assets in Canberra. Built in 1963, the bridge reached design capacity more than three years ago, carrying an average of 7,320 vehicles during the morning peak hour,” Ms Madew said.

“With traffic demand forecast to increase by 25 per cent over the next 15 years, its current structural issues are expected to worsen.

“Upgrading the bridge will extend the design life by 50 years, and offer improved travel times and safety benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. 

“With stated a benefit-cost ratio of 2.65, it represents a sound strategic investment with benefits for the broader Australian economy.”

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