Highway funding in focus

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
The stretch of Bussell Hwy from Capel to Busselton is again in the spotlight
Camera IconThe stretch of Bussell Hwy from Capel to Busselton is again in the spotlight Credit: Busselton-Dunsborough Times, Jackson Lavell-Lee

A political stoush has again erupted between both sides of Parliament over plans to dual Bussell Highway between Busselton and Capel.

Vasse MLA and shadow transport minister Libby Mettam has accused the State Government of inaction over the highway project, while Transport Minister Rita Saffioti says the State Government needs the Commonwealth to chip in.

In May, the State Government announced it would dip into Main Roads’ minor works budget for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road project and fund the widening of a 5km stretch of the highway.

Preliminary works were expected to start on the road in June.

“The McGowan Labor Government currently has the funds and the means to invest in dualling Bussell Highway and is choosing not to do so,” Ms Mettam said.

Ms Saffioti said the Government had committed $4 million to begin preparation for stage one of the project, which would begin later this year.

“Stage one of construction work is due to begin in late 2020 but to get this part of the project off the ground we need Federal Government funding,” she said.

“Over the past five months, Main Roads has been working with the relevant Commonwealth agency to include this project in the scope of works for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road project.”

Ms Saffioti said there was $1.2 billion worth of funding set aside for the “flawed” Perth Freight Link project that the Commonwealth could immediately put towards the Bussell Highway project.

“More recently I have written to the Federal Minister, Michael McCormack, asking the Commonwealth to redirect a portion of the $1.2 billion of funding to this important regional project.”

A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development had not received any correspondence from Ms Saffioti on the matter.

In April, the road topped RAC’s Riskiest Roads list for the second year running.

A petition started by Ms Mettam calling for a dual carriageway between Busselton and Capel has more than 2000 signatures.

Ms Mettam said there were currently ample funds provided by the Federal Government.

“I find it astounding that a Minister would put people’s lives at risk playing such petty politics on what is an important road safety issue,” she said.

“It’s deeply disappointing after several months the Minister has not sought funding for the dual carriageway.”

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