Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will today turn the sod on a major project to upgrade thousands of kilometres of crumbling Wheatbelt roads. The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network road upgrade program, which aims to deliver improved safety and efficiency to key freight supply chains across the Wheatbelt, starts with a $1 million project to widen 3.16km of road and extend drainage culverts on the Mogumber-Yarawindah Road. The WSFN encompasses 80 connecting routes with more than 4400km of roads across the Wheatbelt comprising 42 local governments. WSFN task force chairman and Koorda Shire president Ricky Storer said ultimately $500 million would be needed over 15 years to upgrade the full 4400km of roads. He said the current $87 million of secured funding would enable the first 300km-500km of works to be carried out over the next three to five years, and resulted from four years of lobbying by the task force. The first phase of the WSFN program is jointly funded, with the Federal Government committing $70 million through its Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, and State Government providing $11.67 million. Local government bodies are providing the rest. “These upgrades will better connect businesses to domestic and international markets via WA’s key ports, improving freight productivity and offering greater opportunities for business growth in the wheatbelt region,” Mr McCormack, also Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said. Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies said it was crucial the Wheatbelt freight network operated as efficiently as possible.