Gridlock hotspot bridge on hold
Traffic chaos: The Reid Highway-Malaga Drive intersection. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

A $75 million project to alleviate the gridlock at Perth's worst congestion hotspot appears to have been put further on the backburner by the State Government.

State Budget papers reveal that not another cent will be spent on a new Reid Highway bridge over Malaga Drive until at least 2016-17, despite the project being described by Premier Colin Barnett and former transport minister Troy Buswell as "critical road transport infrastructure" just 18 months ago.

The intersection in Noranda was the most nominated of more than 4000 submitted in a congestion survey by the RAC, in conjunction with _The West Australian _, in 2012.

Short turning lanes, inefficient traffic lights and too many trucks were blamed for the regular delays and long queues.

One regular user said it took her as long as 17 minutes to cross the intersection in afternoon peak hour.

A couple of months after the survey, Mr Barnett and Mr Buswell announced the $75 million bridge as part of a $499 million package of projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion in Perth's northern suburbs.

Mr Buswell said at the time that work would begin in 2013-14 and be completed by 2014-15.

In the midyear Budget review in December, Mr Buswell confirmed the project would be deferred but said he still expected it to be finished by 2017.

The State Budget papers last week reveal construction will now begin in 2016-17, with the earliest completion time being in 2018-19 - at least four years after the original promised completion date.

City of Swan mayor Charlie Zannino said he was disappointed such an important project had been delayed. "This intersection is a strategic location within the road network and, with the continued strong population growth in the City of Swan, this work is very important," he said.

"The number of road users in the region will continue to grow and works like this are required to ease congestion and ensure the safety of motorists."

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Dean Nalder said that despite what was indicated in the Budget papers, it was still possible the project would be completed in 2017-18.

"A tender for the Malaga Drive intersection has already been sought as part of the Reid Highway duplication project, which involves the stretch from Erindale to Duffy roads," she said.

"It makes sense to seek efficiencies by packaging these two similar projects - both of which have a bridge component - together to help fast-track the works and find savings.

"This is likely to result in an earlier start to the Malaga Drive intersection upgrade than reflected in the Budget papers."

The West Australian

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