The West

Freight Link study incomplete
Truck route: The proposed Freight Link route would feature toll roads. Picture: WA News

A full cost-benefit analysis of a proposed $1.6 billion Perth freight road, featuring WA's first tolls, has yet to be done despite winning Federal funding.

Federal Transport Department officials confirmed in a Senate estimates hearing yesterday that full vetting of the Perth Airport to Fremantle port project, announced in the Budget, was months away from completion.

The Government has claimed the project, into which Canberra is pumping $925 million, with the rest to come from the private sector and the State Government, will deliver $5.20 in benefits for every $1 spent.

But officials conceded that was taken only from previously completed cost-benefit studies into parts of the road.

Senior officer Andrew Jaggers said the State-supplied work might not take into account costs such as the impact on the environment or residential communities.

A formalised plan for the Perth Freight Link project should be completed in coming weeks before it, and its claimed benefits, will be examined by Infrastructure Australia.

Officials confirmed details of one of the most expensive parts of the proposed road were yet to be finalised.

No decision had been made on whether the road would be along the ground or elevated across the Beeliar Wetlands.

To prevent trucks avoiding tolls on the highway, officials said measures to prevent truck "leakage" on to existing roads would be considered.

Department secretary Mike Mrdak said there were various ways the private sector could be involved in the project but none had been settled.

WA Labor senator Glenn Sterle said the lack of detail about a project as contentious as the Roe 8 highway extension beggared belief.

"This is full of bull," he said. "This is a shocker."

Greens senator Scott Ludlam said that based on current plans, the freight road project would move a choke point of trucks towards Fremantle port.

He said while the financial benefits were being considered, nothing had been done to look at the costs to Perth.

The West Australian

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