Shire of Northam on board with Secondary Freight Network stage one plans

A region-wide funding program to improve heavy haulage is one step closer to development, with the Shire of Northam council voting to formalise their commitment to the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network (WSFN).

The project, which gained $70 million in Federal funding in March, was the result of collaboration between 42 local governments within in the Wheatbelt.

The upgrades expected to commence in the 2020/21 financial year over the span of three to five years, will target a freight network of 4,400 kilometres of roads that connect with state and national highways to provide access for heavy vehicles into the region.

At an ordinary council meeting last week, councillors unanimously voted to formalise their commitment to the program, enabling them to be eligible for future funding and project consideration.

The vote also endorsed program documents.

As part of WSFN, Yilgarn Avenue was the only road within the Shire of Northam identified to receive upgrades.

The upgrades to the stretch of road is estimated to be up to $1 million.

For the 2019/20 financial year the WSFN have identified twp pilot projects to begin on-ground works and refine project delivery methods.

The projects in the shires of Victoria Plains and Quairading are estimated to cost $1 million each.

Currently, all 42 involved Wheatbelt local governments have been requested to provide their support and commitment to the project project, with the focus on preparing and lodging a stage one pilot project application of $87.5 million.

During a visit to Bindoon earlier this year to announce the funding, deputy Prime Minister and Nationals' leader Michael McCormack highlighted the importance of the upgrades.

"Western Australia's Wheatbelt is a powerhouse of productivity - and the Liberals and Nationals are investing to build the safer roads locals and transport operators deserve," Mr McCormack said.

"Funded under our Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative, this investment recognises the contribution of the Wheatbelt to feeding Australia and the world and creating jobs and opportunities in the region for Australians.

"That's why we are investing in the WSFN, because its contribution to to the national and Western Australian economy, to help get freight moving more efficiently.

"It is yet another part of the Liberal and Nationals' vision to get people home sooner and safer, no matter where they live.

"By making the freight system more efficient, local businesses will also have more money to invest in their operations, creating more jobs and providing a vital shot in the arm for the agriculture and mining sectors, which are so important to WA jobs and communities."

The WSFN group's long-term goal is to secure funding support of approximately $500 million for staged capital works over a 10 to 20-year time frame.