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Bridges remain an issue for the federal government to cross in the upcoming budget, with GrainGrowers calling for additional urgent targeted funding to address current safety and efficiency issues.

The call follows the recent announcement by the federal government of $45 million for regional safety upgrades.

While GrainGrowers welcomed the $20 million allocated to the bridge renewal program, it has called on the government to provide additional targeted bridge funding under the new Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program in the upcoming budget.

GrainGrowers Policy Manager Trade and Supply Chains, Annabel Mactier, said that from 1 July 2024, the Bridge Renewal Program and Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program will consolidate into the Safer Local Road and Infrastructure Program, with an additional $50 million to be added to the new program.

“While additional road infrastructure funding is needed and welcome, the $20 million directed toward bridges is sadly simply not sufficient to address the scale of bridges that require upgrades.”

Ms Mactier said a large percentage of Australia’s regional bridge infrastructure was built over 50 years ago and was approaching the end of its operational life.

“The stark challenge facing regional councils is that while the cost of bridge maintenance in urban areas is typically shared between 4,934 people, in rural areas it is only shared by 142 people.”

“This means that far too often rural and regional road managers are unable to afford the cost of upgrading or replacing the bridges and are instead forced to implement load limits to protect their assets.”

“For the grain industry, these load limits inhibit productivity by restricting the total weight a heavy vehicle can carry over the bridge, resulting in smaller and less efficient heavy vehicle combinations to transport grain.”

Ms Mactier said that restrictions on key bridges like the 65-year-old Bremer Bridge on the Warrego Highway in Queensland and the Dimboola Bridge on the Western Highway in Victoria are creating massive pinch points for grain moving to port.

“With the merger of the Bridges Renewal Program and the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program into the new Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program, it is vital targeted funding is directed to regional bridge upgrades,” she said.

As part of its budget submission directed at improved efficiency across the grain freight and supply chains, GrainGrowers has called for urgent government funding in the following areas:

  • $100 million in targeted funding each year as part of the Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program to rebuild critical aging bridge infrastructure.
  • Increase funding for the Roads to Recovery Program to $1 billion per year to support ongoing maintenance of the nation’s local road infrastructure and address the current shortfall in funding for local councils.
  • $900 million per year in targeted funding for key regional freight corridors to improve the long-term resilience of freight networks.
  • $2 million for the Treasury to develop a mandatory code on port terminal access charges.


Media contact: Chris Rowley

P: 0415 140 253 | Email