Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network

Project summary

The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network program delivers vital upgrades to roads that are key to movement of agricultural freight in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. It funds road upgrades to increase access for large heavy vehicles across the region, improving safety and opening new transport routes for heavy vehicles. It does this by funding road and bridge widening, rehabilitation and realignment, as well as shoulder sealing, overtaking lanes and road train assembly parking bays. This program is a part of the Australian Government’s $4.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, a ten-year investment into the nation’s key freight roads.

42 local governments in the Wheatbelt region have collaborated to form the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network Working Party to help identify 53 strategic freight routes to be upgraded. Upgrades are prioritised based on linkages to state and national roads, highways and the rail network, with consideration also given to links to ports, livestock centers and regional and metropolitan grain receival sites. This investment is expected to support local industry and create local jobs. Two initial projects with a value of $4 million were delivered in the 2019-20 financial year – the upgrades of the Mogumber – Yarawindah Road and the Quairading – Cunderdin Road.

Project delivery

The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network: Mogumber – Yarawindah Road and Quairading – Cunderdin Road projects were approved for a maximum of $3.2 million in Australian Government funding in November of 2019. The Mogumber – Yarawindah Road project commenced construction in February 2020 and remains under construction. The Quairading – Cunderdin project also commenced construction in February 2020 and was completed in May 2020. Program delivery targets also identified works to enable the development of projects in the following years. The estimated cost of development works is $2 million and includes the collection of data to prioritise further routes, further develop route corridors including design of individual projects, and undertake environmental clearances, service relocations and land acquisitions, as required. This process has successfully identified 53 strategic freight routes requiring work.

Details at a glance
Action Area/s Smarter and targeted infrastructure investment
Delivery model Infrastructure construction and road upgrades. The projects will be delivered through a mixture of individual contractors or Council’s own workforces.
Location 42 local government areas in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia
Financial Project is not fully costed. Initial estimate is $87.5 million ($70 million from the Australian Government, $11.67 million from the WA Government and$5.83 million from local government).
Timeframe 2019-20 to 2027-28
Stakeholder engagement The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network Working Party brings together 42 local governments in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. The Working Party nominated six members to form a steering committee, which is working with Main Roads WA on project prioritisation.

Closer look

Impact on freight and supply chains

The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network comprises 4,400 kilometres of local government managed roads that connect with state and national highways. These roads are vital to the transport of products such as grain, livestock, oilseed, seafood, dairy, wool and horticulture from the place of production to strategic receival points. The program seeks to increase freight efficiency and productivity, reduce vehicle-operating costs, and improve road safety along these key freight routes. The program will also ensure consistent Restricted Access Vehicles ratings across the network, which will provide improved access for agricultural and mining regions to transport hubs. While the focus is on providing better connections between agricultural regions and ports to assist the agricultural sector, the program is also expected to improve access for tourism, mining and other sectors. It is expected to assist in delivering social, economic and employment benefits for the regional communities in the agricultural areas.

Benefit Extent realised Description
Intended Strategy Objective
Smarter and targeted infrastructure investment All benefits realised The program allows governments to target investment on strategic freight routes critical to the Wheatbelt region that have been identified as requiring upgrade works.
Project benefits
Increased access for larger heavy vehicles To be assessed when projects are completed The program targets the most important freight routes for grain, hay, livestock, lime, fertiliser and diesel, and upgrades them to allow for larger heavy vehicles. This increases capacity and generates freight cost savings. The program also allows larger heavy vehicles to use roads previously unsuitable, connecting regions and communities to major gateways.
Road safety benefits To be assessed when projects are completed Safety will be improved by widening roads and providing overtaking lanes, among other upgrades. This will enable an increase in the size of vehicles used for the freight, reducing the number of trucks on the road. It is expected that this improve the ‘Killed and Serious Injury’ rate for the region, which is currently more than double the rate of any other region within WA.
Improve freight efficiency, connectivity and travel time To be assessed when projects are completed The Program will ensure that domestic and international supply chains are serviced by resilient and efficient key freight corridors via Western Australia’s key ports, improving freight productivity and offering greater opportunities for business growth in the Wheatbelt region. It will also support local industries and the regional and remote communities located along the network, ensuring they have reliable access to essential services including healthcare and education.
Input Forecast Actual Description
Delivery time 2019 - 2028 N/A The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network is on track to be completed by 2027-28.
Project cost Estimated $87.5 million N/A Dunsing is for both the development and delivery phases of the projects.

Lessons learned

The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network has demonstrated an effective approach to stakeholder engagement through the cooperation between 42 local governments to establish priorities throughout the region. The approach has been recognised as one of the biggest local government collaborations in Australia. This will provide a template for effective stakeholder engagement for future projects to follow, particular those that have adopted a corridor approach.