$525m airport roads project top priority

25/03/2009 - 22:00

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AN extensive upgrade of the road network around Perth airport is set to be Western Australia's biggest roads project over the next few years.

$525m airport roads project top priority

AN extensive upgrade of the road network around Perth airport is set to be Western Australia's biggest roads project over the next few years.

Premier Colin Barnett listed the $525 million airport roads project as one of his top five priorities when the state applied for federal funding last year.

The state government spends about $800 million every year on the state's roads, equal to 11 per cent of its capital works budget.

In addition, the federal government provides Auslink funding for a handful of national highway projects, such as the Great Northern Highway upgrade, and is currently offering extra funding for major infrastructure projects.

The biggest road project currently under way in WA is the $705 million Perth Bunbury Highway (right), which involves the construction of 70 kilometres of dual carriageway from Kwinana Freeway to the Old Coast Road near Lake Clifton.

This is the single largest project ever undertaken by Main Roads WA. It includes 19 bridge structures, the largest of which will be the Murray River Bridge, consisting of two separate structures each 272 metres in length.

Transport Minister Simon O'Brien said earlier this month the Southern Gateway Alliance, which comprises Leighton Contractors, GHD and WA Limestone with Main Roads, was on track to complete the road project by June this year.

Mr O'Brien also announced that the section from Pinjarra Road south to Lake Clifton would be named the Forrest Highway, in honour of the state's first premier, Sir John Forrest.

The proposed Perth airport road works comprise seven related projects, including upgrades to Orrong Road and Tonkin Highway.

It also includes upgrades or the construction of flyovers at several key intersections, including at Horrie Miller Drive and the Roe Highway-Tonkin Highway interchange.

Mr Barnett's proposal contrasts with the former Carpenter government's consideration of a railway spur line to the airport.

The proposed road works are designed to complement an airport upgrade planned by the airport owner, Westralia Airports Corporation.

The state is asking the federal government to provide 50 per cent of the funding for the airport road works.

There is a diverse array of other road projects that sit within Main Roads' infrastructure delivery plan.

The Mandurah Entrance Road is a 7km link to be constructed between the new Perth Bunbury Highway and the existing Mandurah Road.

The interchange at which the entrance road will link the Perth Bunbury Highway will also provide the only access across the highway to the residential communities located to the east.

Request for proposals to form an alliance to design and construct the entrance road were distributed to industry in December.

The proposed construction period for the $130 million project is from mid 2009 to mid 2010.

The timing of other upcoming road projects is less certain.

An upgrade of the Reid Highway-Alexander Drive interchange is tentatively scheduled for later this year.

Work is already under way at the eastern end of Reid Highway, in Middle Swan.

This $78 million project involves a 2.6km extension of Reid Highway involving the construction of a dual carriageway between West Swan Road and Great Northern Highway.

The contract, which was awarded to Macmahon Contractors last year, is expected to be finished in early 2010.

The more expensive projects on the drawing boards include an upgrade of the Great Northern Highway around Port Hedland. This is estimated by Main Roads to cost $150 million.

The development of a port access corridor at Esperance is estimated to cost the same amount.

The government has not yet estimated the cost of extending Roe Hwy from the Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road. It was originally envisaged that Roe Highway would extend all the way to the contentious Fremantle Eastern Bypass, which was vigorously opposed by Fremantle residents.

There is little hope of the bypass ever proceeding after the former Labour government sold the land for housing.

Despite this, the current government has allocated $20 million to finalise planning and start construction of the Roe Highway extension.

A notable achievement last year was completion of a 4km Mitchell Freeway extension to Burns Beach Road on time and ahead of budget.

Mr O'Brien had applauded the efforts of the project team, led by Macmahon, to rein in their spending despite major obstacles.

"At a total project cost of $161.5 million, the extension has been delivered $10 million under budget and within its original construction schedule, despite asphalt shortages during the recent gas crisis," he said in a statement.

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