Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce said the Australian Government is delivering on its plan to build safer roads across regional Australia through the national Black Spot Programme.
Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs announced that the eligibility criteria for the Programme have been changed to make it easier for regional communities to compete for additional funding for road safety projects.
Mr Briggs said in 2015–16 and 2016–17 the Australian Government’s investment in the Black Spot Programme will almost triple to $160 million a year.
Changes to the eligibility criteria are:
At least 50 per cent of the funding for 15/16 and 16/17 is dedicated to regional roads;
Reducing the minimum required benefit cost ratio for funded projects from 2:1 to 1:1; and
Reducing the crash history requirement from three to two casualty crashes in five years.
Mr Joyce welcomed the announcement saying the changes will deliver significant benefits for the New England by ensuring more economically productive infrastructure is built in regional areas whilst also delivering genuine road safety solutions.
“Broadening the criteria will significantly help small councils to successfully nominate projects that were previously ineligible under the existing guidelines.
“These changes will also help address the increased risks motorists face on regional roads with the per capita risk of death or hospitalisation following a crash in a rural area significantly higher than urban areas.
“Consultative Panels, consisting of representatives drawn from community and road user groups, industry and state and local government have been established in each state and territory to consider all nominated Black Spot sites.
“The criteria have also been amended so that more black spots can be fixed before they take lives and cause serious injuries. Under the new criteria, Consultative Panels will able to allocate up to 40 per cent of funding to sites on the basis of a road safety audit.
“I encourage everyone in New England, particularly local councils, to complete the online nomination form and tell the NSW Consultative Panel about our local black spots,” Mr Joyce said.
The Australian Government’s record $500 million investment in the Black Spot Programme will help save lives, boost productivity and create new local jobs throughout Australia.
For more information on the Black Spot Programme and to access the nomination form, please visit investment.infrastructure.gov.au/funding/blackspots/