More than $12 million in funding will support efforts to ensure heavy vehicles have safe, reliable access to high-quality road networks according to Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buccholz.
A boost from the Federal Government of $12.1 million is aimed at delivering better assessment of road assets across rural and regional Australia as part of the Strategic Local Government Asset Assessment Project (SLGAAP).
“This program is vital for helping road managers better understand their local infrastructure capacity, bringing opportunities for new heavy vehicle networks to move freight efficiently – which will in turn bring significant boosts for local economies,” said Buchholz.
“As the heavy vehicle industry continues to grow, we must make sure that proper assessment is carried out on our roads, particularly across rural and regional Australia.
“This is not just about activating the transport industries that keep our country moving, this is about ensuring that everyone, from truck drivers to members of our regional communities, will be safe on our roads no matter where they live.
“The funding will allow local government road managers to deliver as many as 1,000 assessments on local government road assets including bridges, roads and culverts, bringing critical attention to local infrastructure, which will in turn provide industry with the confidence it needs to grow and continue to deliver for Australia.
“This funding will support a second phase of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) SLGAAP, with an initial first phase having already supported road managers to make informed assessments of more than 200 bridge, road and culvert assets thanks to a grant of $8 million from our Government.”
Assistant Minister for Local Government, Kevin Hogan, said the additional funding reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to the safety of regional and rural communities and the industries that rely on them.
“With this additional funding commitment, we can provide greater support to local governments and assist them with their infrastructure assessment needs,” said Hogan.
“The work of local governments is essential for maintaining local road infrastructure, and the Australian Government is committed to our shared goal of creating safer and more efficient road networks for all.”
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator CEO, Sal Petroccitto, welcomed the additional funding, noting the tangible value already provided by the SLGAAP.
“This funding builds on the critical work already rolling out across our regions, supporting industry and making our communities safer,” said Petroccitto.
“It also means that as decisions are made on upgrading or allowing access to increased road assets, drivers will gain expanded access to local communities and townships, providing them more places to rest in comfort and boosting local economies.”
The NHVR and road managers are currently working through the delivery and assessment of phase two of SLGAAP and are calling on local governments to submit any assets that may be eligible for assessment.
Two examples of increased travel conditions for heavy vehicles and positive outcomes for local communities, following assessments as part of the initial phase of SLGAAP, are as follows:
Central Highlands Regional Council
The Lilyvale Road Bridge in the Central Highlands Regional Council district was constructed in the late 1970s with a T44 (44-tonne semitrailer) design. Under the SLGAAP, a Tier 1 engineering assessment confirmed the asset capacity to safely allow access for an expanded number of Oversize Overmass (OSOM) vehicles and Class 2 (freight-carrying) vehicle configurations.
As a result, the local council road manager expanded the heavy vehicle network access by issuing OSOM pre-approvals for five routes. Under a pre-approval, operators are issued a permit upon application for OSOM single-route trips.
Bega Valley Shire Council
Under SLGAAP, 11 engineering assessments were completed in Bega Valley Shire, including the Greendale Bridge over the Brogo River, which directly connects with the A1 Princes Highway. Constructed in 1968, this is an almost 150-metre-long, five-span bridge, with steel girders supporting a concrete deck.
Due to the asset’s unknown structural capacity, access was restricted for OSOM and Performance-Based Standards (PBS) vehicles, requiring A-double milk tankers to take a longer route using alternative unsealed roads, causing wear to both vehicles and infrastructure.
The Greendale Bridge was assessed against 112 vehicle configurations under a Tier 2 structural assessment, identifying enough capacity in the bridge to safely carry an extended range of OSOM vehicles, including the A-double milk tankers. The shorter route is now being used by heavy vehicle operators, safely providing productivity benefits while reducing vehicle wear and road damage.