Pastoralists want NT road funding spent wisely

Beef Central, 01/05/2012

The Northern Territory Government has announced more than $12 million in road upgrades and maintenance for the Barkly region in its 2012 budget.

The state of the NT’s rural road network remains one of the greatest challenges for the NT cattle industry, with poor and deteriorating infrastructure limiting vital access to markets and adding to costs as transporters increase rates to cover for damage caused to vehicles travelling on bad roads.

The $12m of new funding announced by NT lands and planning minister and member for Barkly, Gerry McCarthy, includes $170,000 for improved drainage along the Stuart Highway near Elliott and $6.74 million for repairs and maintenance across the entire Barkly road network.

A further $3.4m in maintenance funding for the region will be provided by the Federal Government.

Mr McCarthy said current federal funding for NT roads includes $11 million across all NT regions for infrastructure Road Safety initiatives, which includes upgrading of three truck parking bays on the Stuart Highway between Renner Springs and Threeways and two truck parking bays on the Barkly Highway at the Barkly Homestead and near the Ranken Road intersection.

It also involves $2 million for the Roads to Recovery program for improvements to various local roads including the Calvert Road, Murray Downs Road, Ranken Road and the Barkly Stock Route.

Federally funded road works include the $16m strengthening and widening of 20km of the Barkly Highway from Avon Downs to the Queensland border, and $8 million of flood immunity improvements and pavement strengthening and widening to the Stuart Highway at Gilbert Swamp, which is soon to begin.

One of the Barkly region’s largest cattle producers has welcomed the $12m funding injection, but says it is crucial the money is spent where it is most needed.

“Any investment in infrastructure in northern Australia is certainly welcome, and we encourage it to be spent strategically where it adds value and increases the productivity and security of transport in the north,” AA Co chief operating officer Troy Setter said.

“We would prefer to see the money spent on road infrastructure improvements where we currently have dirt roads that are only open for eight months of the year to open those roads for 12 months of the year, rather than on truck parking bays.

As a company AA Co is relatively well situated with tar access to a large amount of its properties, however, more broadly the NT economy suffers from lack of access to properties and to potential mine sites.

“For the NT to go forward and develop we need to have greater access for the full year,” Mr Setter said.



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