Pacific Hwy completion by 2016 in doubt

Pacific Hwy completion by 2016 in doubt

18:29 AEDT Sat May 5 2012
2 hours 19 minutes ago
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The completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade by its 2016 deadline is now in doubt as the federal government urges NSW to agree to a funding split.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Saturday that $3.56 billion would be set aside for the full duplication of the Pacific Highway under the Nation Building Program.

The funding injection would be available “in what is a very difficult budget” for 2012/13, set to be handed down on Tuesday night.

But Mr Albanese argued that a full duplication of the highway would require an extra $7.1 billion over what has previously been allocated by state and federal governments.

If the NSW government wants the roadway to be completed by its 2016 deadline he said the state would need to agree to Canberra’s 50:50 funding split in its June budget.

“It could be delayed until the funding is provided,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

“If the funding isn’t there, then the roadworks can’t occur.

“It is indeed possible to deliver on the 2016 commitment but to do it, what it has always needed, was for the money to match the political rhetoric,” he said.

But a spokesman for NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said that the state government wants the federal government “to honour the agreement”, which stipulated the commonwealth provide 80 per cent of the funding.

“This was the deal that they signed with the NSW Labor government in 2009,” he told AAP on Saturday.

“Under the proposed split there will be a shortfall of 2.31 billion.”

He said any boost in funding would need to be considered by the NSW Treasury.

NRMA Motoring and Services President Wendy Machin welcomed the federal government’s boost in funding, saying the road was one of the most dangerous in the country.

“(It) accounts for around one-third of fatalities on the National Network,” Ms Machin said in a statement.

“We will be fighting to make sure the Pacific Highway is the number one priority in the NSW State Budget in June.”

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