06/02/2017 - 15:12

Locals call for regional road spend

06/02/2017 - 15:12

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Congested roads are becoming a way of life for many residents of Bunbury as visitors from the north clog the city’s arterial roads on weekend trips to and from the South West.

Locals call for regional road spend
Photo: Attila Csaszar

Congested roads are becoming a way of life for many residents of Bunbury as visitors from the north clog the city’s arterial roads on weekend trips to and from the South West.

The influx of traffic, and growth in residential areas around the city, are contributing to an increase in traffic incidents and higher freight costs, according to business and civic leaders contacted by Business News.

City of Bunbury director of works Gavin Harris said the region needed an orbital ring road to be completed within the next three to five years.

Stage one of the road was built as part of a $140 million port access road package signed off in 2012 (see map, orange).

The second two stages would link the Perth-Bunbury Highway to the Bussell Highway.

“At the moment, certainly on long weekends and even just on normal weekends, the traffic congestion that occurs on the current road has a huge effect on how people move around Bunbury,” Mr Harris said.

“It gets to gridlock at stages.

“With the outer ring road in place (for) the people heading straight through into the South West, it takes those vehicles off roads within the Bunbury community that Bunbury people will be moving on.”

Mr Harris pointed out that the city was stretched along the coast, with few routes linking the north to the area in the south near Gelorup, which had experienced strong residential growth.

South West Express Transport chief executive Mark Mazza told Business News residential growth had been significant during the past three decades, particularly in the corridor from Bunbury to Capel.

This had made it difficult to move freight through the region, he said.

“Currently what we’ve got is a situation where we’ve got an old road network that is basically from the Bunbury bypass heading south – you have to negotiate a few roundabouts that are not suitable for larger trucks,” Mr Mazza said.

That means no road trains, he said, while rail is not an option either.

“The only way you can do it is to use what they call pocket road trains or semitrailers, and this is adding a lot of cost of doing business to the population of the South West,” Mr Mazza said.

“We have to break down our (truck) configurations in Bunbury to smaller units, so instead of two truck movements you’ve got four.”

However, while he said although the region had a fairly large population, it still didn’t have as much pull as the metropolitan area.

“Most of the money on roads is thrown at Perth because that’s where the population base is,” Mr Mazza said.

Regional demand

Currently, the state government has budgeted more than $800 million for regional roads, according to the BNiQ Search Engine.

Bunbury’s ring road is one of a number of major regional road projects being studied by Main Roads, with others including Busselton and Albany.

However, funding for most of those is not yet allocated.

Main Roads decided on an alignment in January for the Bindoon bypass, north of Perth.

It is part of the Great Northern Highway upgrades in the northern Wheatbelt, at a cost of $387 million.

Dalwallinu shire president Steve Carter said the mining boom brought significant movements up and down the highway, which meant it had become more dangerous.

He expected the upgrades to the Great Northern Highway would be of particular benefit to livestock exporters.

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