State roads funding in doubt

EXCLUSIVE Gareth Parker State Political EditorThe West Australian

More than $800 million of Federal funding for WA road projects remains in doubt, including for two key roads in the State's north that will service the mining boom.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss refused to guarantee Commonwealth funding for projects including the Great Northern Highway and the North West Coastal Highway in recent correspondence to WA Treasurer and Transport Minister Troy Buswell.

Amid confusion over the true extent of the coalition's transport commitments to WA before the State election, Mr Buswell told State Parliament in September that he had written to Mr Truss seeking "confirmation" that existing funding commitments made by the former Labor government would be kept.

It included $308 million for the Great Northern Highway and $174 million for the North West Coastal Highway, which were to be funded by the mining tax.

Other commitments were $141 million for three interchanges on Tonkin Highway, $59 million for upgrading Leach Highway through Fremantle, $6 million for planning the airport rail link, $62.6 million for widening the Kwinana Freeway and $69 million for widening the Great Eastern Highway.

In copies of the correspondence, obtained by _The West Australian _, Mr Buswell seeks clarification from the Abbott Government's "currently funded road and transport projects".

Mr Truss' reply, sent this month, commits only to an extra $196.7 million for the Swan Valley bypass, as flagged by the coalition in the election campaign, and existing funding for the Gateway project around Perth Airport.

A spokesman for Mr Truss said the mining tax had raised no money so there was no funding source for Labor's promises to fund the Great Northern and North West Coastal highways.

In September, Mr Buswell told Parliament the projects would not go ahead without Commonwealth funding.

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