RDA Townsville and North West Queensland (RDA TNWQ) are playing a lead role in facilitating the development of the Inland Queensland Roads Action Plan (IQ-RAP).
IQ-RAP is the first of its type in Australia, which has been developed through a collaboration of 47 funding partners, including several RDA committees.
RDA TNWQ first considered the concept of such a plan, after the success of the Bruce Highway Action Plan in securing funding commitments from the Australian and Queensland governments.
In December 2013, RDA TNWQ engaged with other RDAs in central, north and south west Queensland and held a forum in Longreach, where the Interim Working Group was formed and RDA TNWQ took on the role of Secretariat.
The other RDA committees involved are Far North Queensland and Torres Strait, Darling Downs South West, Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday and Fitzroy and Central West.
IQ-RAP Secretariat and RDA TNWQ Chief Executive Officer Glenys Schuntner said there was an opportunity for achieving regional economic development outcomes through greater investment on inland roads through greater cross-regional collaboration.
“Common goals to create jobs, develop and sustain our regional communities, improve productivity for all industries and businesses and safety for all using the inland Queensland road network, have resulted in a strategic alliance of RDA committees, 33 councils, eight Regional Roads and Transport Groups and RACQ,” Ms Schuntner said.
IQ-RAP Working Group Chair Cr Peter Maguire said the plan identifies the road network and prioritises upgrades over the next 18 years. Click here to read more.
to seek to bring roads into line with the mainstream practices of Australia’s infrastructure sectors;
to employ user pays-user says trials for road improvements to test this approach;
that the Australian Rural Roads Group asset and investment template is appropriate for local roads throughout regional Australia;
that submissions should be made to include suitably aggregated proposals in Infrastructure Australia’s national infrastructure audit and infrastructure priorities list.
As a result of this Accord five North West NSW Councils known as the North-West Network (Gwydir, Moree Plains, Gunnedah, Warrumbungle and Narrabri Shire Councils) commissioned a report to submit to Infrastructure Australia that detailed how additional Federal Government funding for rural local roads could be justified as economically responsible based upon productivity improvement outcomes.
The North-West Network is a road investment and sustainability program designed for a 57,000 square kilometre agricultural powerhouse region of north-western New South Wales. It has two main features:
Road productivity and
The network – over 12,000 kilometres of roads – has little opportunity to secure major new capital funds from governments in the prevailing fiscal climate. Yet at the same time, the public sector roads ‘system’ does not offer significant avenues for productivity-based funding allocations. This program has been designed to be submitted to Infrastructure Australia and in turn to the New South Wales government and Infrastructure NSW for formal recognition as a ‘national infrastructure priority list’ project, based on:
National agricultural productivity;
Links to the proposed Inland Rail;
Innovative market investment approach to financing roads;
Economic Merit; and.
It is Deliverable.
The presentation will outline the process followed and the methodology adopted and why it should be used as a template for an improved road funding model.
For more information on the National Road Asset Reporting Pilot or to view/download the Bingara Accord please click here.
Roads to Recovery Programme Funding Allocations 2009-2014, the objective of Roads to Recovery is to contribute to the Infrastructure Investment Programme through supporting maintenance of the nation’s local road infrastructure asset, which facilitates greater access for Australians and improved safety, economic and social outcomes.
From 2009-10 to 2013-14 the Government will provide $1.75 billion ($373.5 million in 2013-14) under the Roads to Recovery programme, to be distributed to Australia’s local councils, state and territory Governments responsible for local roads in the
unincorporated areas (where there are no councils) and the Indian Ocean Territories.
We are interested in hearing from you on what is needed to improve roads in Victoria at the Australian Regional Development Conference will be held on the 15-16 October in Albury 2014. www.regionaldevelopment.org.au
The following table lists the Roads to Recovery funding allocations for Victorian councils.
Roads to Recovery Life of Program Allocation 2009-10 to 2013-14
More than half of the road fatalities in Australia occur on rural roads, and the greatest investment we can make to mitigate this is reducing speed limits on many of these roads. Indeed, fatal crashes and the cost of all road trauma on rural roads could be reduced by about 34% if speed limits reflected the type of road the vehicle was travelling on.
I recently completed an analysis that worked out the economically optimal speed for each road and vehicle type, that is, the speed that minimises the total costs of road trauma, travel time, air pollution emissions, and vehicle operations (principally fuel costs).
A key factor in my research was valuing road trauma at a much higher cost ($8.03 million per fatal crash) than has been previously used in Australia. The values I used reflect what society is “willing to pay” to prevent serious road trauma.
This approach is used in many developed nations such as United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but not yet officially in Australia. It’s based on surveys that measure people’s preferences for reducing the risk to their lives versus benefits forgone (such as money invested in safety equipment). Internationally, it is now considered to be the most valid approach to calculating the cost of road accidents.
Current speed limits on rural roads in Australia reflect the traditional way of calculating road trauma cost, which is known as the “human capital” approach. This values each fatal crash at about $3 million. It essentially involves estimating the value of the productive output of people involved in accidents over their remaining lifetime
There are periodic public calls for more time and effort to be invested in developing countermeasures to the rural road toll. In fact, the single most effective investment we can make is spending more time on our journeys on undivided rural roads by travelling at lower speeds.
The next most effective action is for the government to invest substantial funding in upgrading rural roads to divided road or freeway standard. The improved safety standard of these upgraded roads would allow the current speed limits of at least 100 km/h to be restored.
But in a country the size of Australia, extensive upgrading of undivided roads would take many years and, in the interim, lower speed limits on these roads are essential to significantly reducing the road toll.
According to my analysis, the optimum speed on rural freeways is 110 km/h for light vehicles, but only 95 km/h for trucks. On the lower-standard rural divided roads, the optimum speeds are 95 km/h for light vehicles and 90 km/h for trucks.
On undivided rural roads (about 75% of kilometres driven in rural Australia), they are 90 km/h for both light and heavy vehicles. But this reduces to 85 km/h on curvy roads, where fuel cost and emissions increase because of frequent deceleration to negotiate sharp curves.
In general terms, current speed limits on rural freeways (110 km/h) and other divided roads (100 km/h) are close to optimal for light vehicles, but should be at least 10 km/h lower for trucks. On undivided rural roads, the general speed limit of 100 km/h should be reduced to 90 km/h and sections with many sharp curves should be speed zoned at no more than 80 km/h.
The fruits of slowing down
Reductions in speed limits would likely be resisted and need to be enforced effectively, but they would produce a substantial fall in the rural road toll. They would also have a positive impact on fuel costs and emission, with only a 13% increase in travel time.
It may seem unfair to people who live in rural areas to lower their speed limits. But my analysis took increased travel time into account and the costs associated with it are not infinite. And the gains of reduced road trauma and emissions will mitigate some of them. The problem is that the gains are not tangible – at least not until road trauma affects you or someone you know.
We don’t need to just look to the government to reduce the rural road toll. We can make a difference ourselves by investing more time in our journeys on rural roads, particularly on Australia’s mostly undivided roads and when driving heavy vehicles.
Max Cameron does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Transport Hubs for Australia, the intermodal issues for road, rail, ports and airports represents a challenge and opportunity for regional Australia. An intermodal logistics hub can be an economic asset for a regional community when they become a regional service centre.
Parkes has a long-standing plan to become a transport hub for all of Australia. It’s on the Newell Highway and the Sydney to Perth Rail line and it’s hoped an extension of the Melbourne to Brisbane rail line would mean freight companies could use Parkes as a distribution point to warehouse goods and then send them anywhere in the country.
Parkes, plans to be the transport hub for Australia
Australian Regional Development Conference, will be held in Albury NSW on the 15 – 16 October 2014 with a focus on the broad issues of economic, planning, environment and community development.
Call for papers – would you like to speak on transport and logistics hubs in regional Australia?
Authors or organisations interested in submitting a paper or presenting a workshop are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words outlining the aims, contents and conclusions of their paper or presentation; or about their intended role in a workshop.
The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016.
Regional Australia – Planning, Participation and Progress will explore opportunities for innovation in regional Australia. With its rich resources, diversity, and value, regional Australia is the catalyst for the future.
The Conference addresses issues such as sustainable development, environmental sustainability, land use, community development, investment, agribusiness and innovation.
With program content including an extensive range of topics from Keynote Presenters, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies and Poster Presentations, this is a Conference for planners, local Councils, Government, business, NGO, community organisations, academics and professionals with an interest in regional sustainability.
The conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government not-for-profit organisation.