The RTBU commends the Queensland Government for embarking on a serious and comprehensive approach to infrastructure planning.
The objectives outlined in the Draft State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) are worthy, and the approach is broadly sound. We do, however, feel that the process can be improved, particularly in terms of establishing a rigorous and transparent methodology around the prioritisation of projects.
Our primary concern is that the strategy does not adequately indicate how trade-offs between competing priorities will be managed. In short, the strategy includes worthy objectives, but should be more specific about the way decisions around infrastructure investments will be made.
Furthermore, we believe the Draft SIP needs to place a stronger emphasis on the need for investment in, and greater use of, sustainable transport modes such as rail and public transport.
The demographic and transport use projections clearly show that major investment is needed in public transport infrastructure and services, however the program outlined in the Draft SIP is heavily weighted towards road projects.
The RTBU strongly supports the Draft SIP’s focus on value capture as a mechanism for funding transport infrastructure projects. We believe the proposed Value Capture Unit will position the Queensland Government as the most innovative state government in the country when it comes to infrastructure funding.
The RTBU believes the Draft SIP could be improved by:
- including a commitment to conduct comprehensive research into best practice active transport design principles that promote seamless connectivity, and to progressively implement such standards;
- including a program of investment in DDA compliant infrastructure at transport nodes;
- incorporating the strategy and projects previously identified in regional transport plans such as Connecting SEQ2031, and identifying targets for modal share;
- adopting an evidence-based Multi Criteria Analysis process for prioritising infrastructure projects, taking into account the broader government objectives and priorities;
- seeking a formal commitment and funding from Infrastructure Australia to upgrade the entire North Coast Line (NCL) as a key component of Australia’s east coast rail network, and as part of developing a national land freight transport;
- including a forward program of investment in strategically-located intermodal terminals to assist in the efficient movement of freight around the State;
- including a program of level crossing removals, focusing on the removal of high-use level crossings in urban areas and major regional centres; and
- moving beyond the 15-year planning timeframe, with the program to be based on three planning horizons -
- Short-term, 1-4 years (committed and funded projects);
- Medium-term, 5-10 years (ready to proceed based on the appropriate need trigger); and
- Long-term, 20-40 years (identified in planning and strategy documents).