One of NSW's key inland freight routes is set to receive a major overhaul following consultation with local communities.
The NSW government’s draft plan for the future of the Newell Highway encompasses a raft of upgrades for the major inland freight route, including heightened more overtaking lanes, flood proofing, as well as the abolition of double road trains.
The Newell Highway runs over 1000 kilometres through the centre of the state, and is considered a major interstate transportation route for both freight and passenger traffic, connecting Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. It starts in the Riverina region of southwest NSW and runs north through New England to Gonndiwindi on the border with Queensland.
Despite the importance of the route for interstate traffic, certain sections of the highway remain blighted by quality issues, including poor paving and structure deficiencies. In addition to their impact on road safety and maintenance costs, these defects also impact the role of the highway as a key freight route, increasing trip times and and reducing travel reliability.
The draft strategy for the Newell Highway Corridor, which was released online by the NSW government at www.transport.nsw.gov.au, envisages heavy duty pavement along the section between Narrabri and the Queensland border in the north, and measures to completely prevent flooding where the highway crosses the Macquarie River at Dubbo.
The strategy also proposes phasing out double road trains, ensuring that overtaking opportunities are sufficient, and enabling Higher Productivity Vehicles to traverse the full length of the highway.
Duncan Gay, NSW Minister for Roads and Freight, said he welcomed feedback from members of local communities situated close to the highway on how best to improve its proposals and add finishing touches to its plans.
Gay said he would be particularly open to suggestions relating to the inclusion of additional overtaking lanes for reasons of safety and convenience; the construction of town bypasses to raise the economic prospects of local communities, as well as the inclusion of more rest areas for regional truckers.
The deadline for feedback or opinions from the public on the draft strategy is June 20, 2014.