Infrastructure report highlights need for a regional focus

The region’s peak business organisation, the Illawarra Business Chamber, believes the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit released by Infrastructure Australia shows that governments at both state and federal levels need to look towards regional economies like the Illawarra to ease the congestion woes of capital cities like Sydney.

According to the report, Sydney is home to eight of the ten most congested roads in Australian cities during morning peak hour, and the performance of its road network is getting worse despite significant current investment levels. Train services have also experienced demand that has outstripped capacity improvements, with patronage of Sydney Trains increasing 10 percent between August 2016 and August 2018.

“Governments need to invest in regional economies like ours, because even with record levels of investment, infrastructure in our capital cities is barely enough to keep pace with rapid increases in demand and population growth,” said Adam Zarth, Executive Director of the Illawarra Business Chamber.

“By investing in regional economies like the Illawarra where the return on investment is higher, we alleviate the pressure on Sydney’s road and rail infrastructure and allow the 23,000 people who commute there each day to work closer to home.

“The required infrastructure to grow the Illawarra economy and connect it to the economic growth region of south-western Sydney is relatively cost-effective but would have a major impact on the state economy.

“Shovel-ready projects in the South West Illawarra Rail Link and an upgrade of Picton Road to motorway standard are consistent with the Audit’s common themes, but require support from state and federal government to be more fully articulated in the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List.

“Picton Road will reach peak daily capacity in three years’ time and yet only minor safety improvements are slated for 5-10 years’ time. Freight will be displaced by passenger services on the South Coast Line from 2030, which is why South West Illawarra Rail Link also needs urgent consideration.

“Infrastructure delivery is more important than ever, and it is critical to the future success of the NSW economy that we train and recruit skilled people with the required project management and procurement expertise, as well adequately growing available trades.

“At a time of stagnating productivity and drought, the timely and effective delivery of new infrastructure in our cities and regions is one of the best ways to boost productivity and economic activity,” Mr Zarth said.

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