Today I joined WA Transport Minister Troy Buswell onsite in Esperance to turn the first sod of a $120 million project which will improve access to its rapidly expanding port as well as announce Federal funding to advance the ambitious PortLink proposal to the next stage.
The Esperance Port Access Corridor project will untangle the road and rail connections to the Port by realigning Harbour Road and replacing two existing level crossings with overpasses.
Once completed in late 2013, this work will improve the movement of goods and freight into and out of the Port as well as make it easier for locals to get around their town, particularly when trains are passing through.
With one of the deepest harbours in southern Australia, Esperance Port is critical to the national economy. Each year more than 200 ships pass through it carrying over 11 million tonnes of nickel, iron ore and grain exports as well as imports of fuel and fertilisers – volumes which are only expected to grow in the years ahead.
The project is being delivered by John Holland Pty Ltd with funding from both the Federal Labor Government ($60 million) and the WA Government ($60 million).
As well as addressing Australia’s more immediate infrastructure needs, Federal
Labor is also planning for the nation’s future, not just for the next three years but for the next three decades.
That’s why we’ve agreed to allocate $2 million to the PortLink Inland Freight Corridor Plan, a long-talked about proposal with the potential to transform the region and open up access to the vast wealth which lies beneath the ground across this remote part of the country.
If given the final go ahead, the project would establish Kalgoorlie as a hub linking
together the ports of Port Hedland, Freemantle, Esperance, Geraldton and the proposed Oakajee facility – see attached map.
The funding I’m announcing today will go towards the planning and scoping study
which will assess the possible road and rail alignment options, undertake the necessary economic and financial modelling as well as determine the operational and technical feasibility of an intermodal facility.
Given the proposal’s complexity and the amount investment that ultimately would be required, we are determined to do our homework and to getting the planning right from the very outset.
All up the Gillard Labor Government is investing $3.7 billion over six years into WA’s road and rail infrastructure, almost double what the Howard Government spent over a similar period of time.