City takes case for ring road to capital

Talitha Wolfe and Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

The Albany Ring Road may become a foreseeable reality with City of Albany representatives pushing it on the national agenda in Canberra last week.

Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington and chief executive Andrew Sharp met with WA Senator Dean Smith, Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson and the Federal Minister of Transport Darren Chester’s office to discuss the long-awaited ring road.

The proposed multimillion-dollar ring road project stalled at stage one — Menang Drive — which was completed in 2007, and no funding was allocated to the next two stages to create a heavy haulage route around the Albany CBD and into the port

A submission is being prepared for Infrastructure Australia which denied funding for the ring road in 2013.

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Despite this, Mr Wellington said he thought there was a strong case for the $172 million project.

He said the 2013 project funding request was about $300 million while this request might be more feasible.

“I think the case is very strong really in what it can do for the city and how it can benefit everybody,” he said.

“Agriculture is about 48 per cent of (Albany’s) GDP ... so it’s very important that we get those trucks to the port in the best way and insuring that our produce gets there because it is the lifeblood of the town.

“I think the $300 million was unattainable but now it is in the realms of possibility.”

Mr Wellington said more work needed to be done at a State level before the proposal could be presented to the Federal ministers.

“They’ve got to put it on the high-priority list which obviously they haven’t had time to do yet... but we had discussions prior to the State election and (Labor) see it as a priority for us,” he said.”

State Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said she had discussed the project with Member for Albany Peter Watson and said Main Roads was preparing an updated submission to Infrastructure Australia, which was due to be finalised early next year. However, when asked if the $35 million funding allocated in the State election would be spent in Albany and on mitigating the issues plaguing the Chester Pass Roundabout, Ms Saffioti reaffirmed the $35 million would be allocated against the project.

According to Mr Wilson, there would be a higher likelihood of the ring road being funded by the Federal Government if the State Government committed more to the project.

“The State Government has only committed $35 million which is only 20 per cent of the project … I think it’s far more likely that the Federal Government will find some partner funding if the State Government came up with some more money,” he said.

“There is nothing to stop the State Government from contributing more money.

“It is a key transport route to an export port that handles 2-3 million tonnes of produce a year, most of which goes through the roundabout on Albany Highway, freeing up that transport linkage to the port, I would see as quite critical.”

Mr Wellington and Mr Sharpe visited Canberra to attend the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly to promote Albany as the host of the 2017 congress in November.

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