Budget $1.6b freight link plan
Truck route: The Budget has a $1.6b freight link plan. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

A $1.6 billion freight link that takes heavy vehicles off local roads in Perth's burgeoning south metropolitan area will be one of the centrepiece announcements in the Abbott Government's first Budget.

Connecting Perth Airport to the Fremantle port without traffic lights, the Perth Freight Link will involve upgrades to High Street and Stock Road as well as an extension to Roe Highway.

To be finished by 2020, it will take 16 minutes off the Reid Highway to Fremantle port route and remove about 65,000 trucks a day from local roads, addressing some of the traffic pressures for when the Fiona Stanley Hospital opens.

Under an 80:20 funding split, the Federal Government will contribute $925 million and the State Government $230 million, although there was no money set aside for the project in Thursday's State Budget.

Another $445 million will come from the private sector which, in exchange for its investment, will be able to toll heavy vehicle users of the freight link for 25 to 30 years.

One option will be to erect gantries across the freight link to activate e-tags attached to the windscreen of trucks, as done in Melbourne and Sydney.

It would be WA's first toll road, although private cars would be exempted from the toll.

The 5km Roe Highway extension would be a four-lane dual carriageway linking Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road in Coolbellup. The Government says this is "shovel ready" once the environmental approval process is finished.

Upgrading Stock Road from Roe Highway into Leach Highway and Stirling Highway as far as Marmion Street will involve road widening and the removal of traffic lights to allow free-flowing traffic.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told The Weekend West the link was an important piece of economic infrastructure and part of the Abbott Government's determination to "deliver a better deal for WA".

"There is absolutely no doubt that this project, which we will deliver in close co-operation with Colin Barnett and his team, will deliver significant social and economic benefits," he said.

Senator Cormann emphasised that tolls would apply only to trucks and other heavy vehicles.

Melville mayor Russell Aubrey, who has played a central role in devising the plan and connecting Federal and State ministers, said the freight link was critical to alleviating congestion around the Murdoch Activity Centre, which includes the Fiona Stanley Hospital.

"Getting heavy freight off local roads improves safety and lifestyle but getting trucks off those roads also means people can get to the new hospital safely - and that's a game changer," he said.

The Perth Freight Link project will be funded out of a $10 billion infrastructure fund to be unveiled in Tuesday's Budget.

The Budget will also confirm $4.7 billion Federal funding for WA infrastructure, much of which was instigated under Labor, including the Perth Gateway project, the Tonkin Highway and the Swan Valley bypass.

The West Australian

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