Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien is urging local councils and the State Government to apply for a share of $300 million to upgrade bridges and freight roads.
Applications are closing soon for funding under Round 5 of the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government's Bridges Renewal Program (BRP) and Round 7 of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP).
"These two funding rounds present an opportunity to make Wide Bay's roads and bridges safer, and improve key heavy vehicle infrastructure," Mr O'Brien said.
"Now more than ever when we are experiencing significantly increased demand on local produce, efficient freight networks are vital to the national economy as well as road safety."
Under these programs, proponents can apply for funding of up to 50 per cent of project costs for up to five projects to a limit of $2 million per project for councils and $2.5 million per project for state and territory governments.
Mr O'Brien said this would allow local councils and communities to identify and fast-track their highest-priority infrastructure projects.
"These high-priority projects will ensure our freight routes as safe as possible, and also create much-needed jobs for local people in Wide Bay," Mr O'Brien said.
"Every single job that we can support in Wide Bay means there is more money flowing across our communities at a time it is needed most."
Previous rounds of the HVSPP/BRP have delivered significant safety benefits for the Wide Bay, including $3.08 million to replace the Mary River Road Bridge at Cooroy and the Old Noosa Road Bridge at Cooran, jointly-funded through the Bridges Renewal Program and Noosa Council.
"The $5 million Coondoo Creek Bridge replacement was funded through Round 6 of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, as well as $372,500 to widen and strengthen a 350-metre section of Wadell Road," Mr O'Brien said.
"Work on the new bridge is well underway and is expected to be complete by the end of the year, which will bring significant safety and economic benefits to the people of Cooloola Coast and Gympie.
"This is a State bridge on a State-controlled road and State responsibility, but the Federal Coalition Government has enabled this replacement to finally go ahead after more than a decade of delays from the State Government."
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the funding would help deliver safety-enhancing projects right across Australia.
"These two important programs form part of our ongoing commitment to keep heavy vehicle drivers safe and improve our road network," Mr Buchholz said.
"We know how critical efficient freight networks are to the national economy and indeed to all Australians, with the COVID-19 crisis showcasing just how vital the work of our freight operators is.
"I encourage local councils and state and territory governments to apply for funding under these programs by the 29 May 2020 closing date – and we'd like to see applications from right across the nation.
"Continuing to invest in road infrastructure projects is important now more than ever to support local jobs, underpin economic growth and ensure all Australians can reach their destinations sooner and safer."
"By investing in programs like these, we are backing our hard-working truck drivers by providing them with the infrastructure they need and deserve to get around safely and efficiently.
More than 450 projects funded through the BRP and HVSPP across the country have either been completed or are well underway.
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