WA ponders toll road for Link

While the Eastern States have turned increasingly to user-pays infrastructure, WA has resisted toll roads - until now.

The Barnett Government is in the middle of a road building spree, extending the freeway north, widening the freeway south, undertaking the biggest Main Roads project around the airport and planning new freight links north and south of the city.

Each project is funded 100 per cent by taxpayers and have no user charges.

That might be about to change, though, with the Government investigating whether to charge a toll on what is dubbed the Perth Freight Link, a highway that would run from the airport precinct to Fremantle port.

"Our position on tolls is very clear - there will not be a toll for private cars," Transport Minister Dean Nalder said.

"Any additional charge that might be applied to the freight industry would need to be a win-win for government and industry and would be the subject of consultation."

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said Labor opposed tolls, describing them as a new tax that would make imported goods more expensive and raise costs for exporters.

There is naturally a focus on new roads and big-ticket infrastructure solutions, but smaller-scale innovations can be just as useful in easing gridlock.

Mr Nalder said a trial of better traffic light sequencing on Canning Highway between Riseley Street and the freeway had allowed 8 per cent more vehicles to move through the area in peak times. Installing part-time traffic signals at the Point Lewis roundabout at the foot of Mt Eliza had reduced queuing during peak times.

With State and Federal Budgets stretched, finding more low-cost options may well deliver better value for money than big new road projects.

The Economic Regulation Authority has recommended a trial of congestion-charging in the CBD during peak times.

The West Australian

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