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Australia needs $55 billion in new infrastructure: Report

More than $55 billion of priority projects are needed to shape Australia’s cities and regions in the next 15 years, Infrastructure Australia says.

NSW has more “high priority initiatives” than the other states combined, as planners try to limit congestion in Sydney and preserve future transport corridors.

High priorities include major new public transport in Sydney, the East West Link in Melbourne, Cross River Rail in Brisbane, and preserving the high speed rail corridor down the eastern seaboard.

“[These projects will] best meet the connectivity needs of Australia’s growing cities, strengthen our global role as an exporter of good and services and make our infrastructure more resilient,” chairwoman Julieanne Alroe said on Monday.

Infrastructure Australia’s 2018 priority list recommends almost 100 projects already under way, in the planning stages or on the agenda.

NSW has 11 high priority initiatives planned, including the Sydney Gateway project and new high capacity rail to handle urban congestion in the next five years.

The other states have nine high priority initiatives between them.

In Victoria, Infrastructure Australia says a new freeway connecting CityLink and the Eastern Freeway will need to be built in the near term.

The Victorian Labor government controversially tore up the contract for the East West Link project in 2014, at a cost of more than $1 billion, but Infrastructure Australia says a solution will need to be found within five years.

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail will also be needed to get passengers into the CBD from the city’s north and south.

Infrastructure Australia says more than $30 billion will need to be spent on securing the corridor for the East Coast High Speed Rail project, which will run from Brisbane to Melbourne.

It estimates that the combined population of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will reach 30 million in the next 60 years.

Ms Alroe said the priority list had been an effective way of pushing infrastructure planning beyond the electoral cycle.

“Infrastructure Australia is also pleased to see $25 billion worth of projects now off the list and entering the delivery phase,” she said.

Previous priority projects now under construction include Sydney’s NorthConnex, Melbourne’s Metro Rail, and South Australia’s North-South Corridor upgrade.

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