In the pipeline
Major road project activity is set to decline in 2019-20 and 2020-21 as the $A3 billion NorthConnex and $A4.9 billion Woolgoolga – Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade wind down. The $A16.8 billion WestConnex will continue to underpin roads activity until its scheduled completion in 2022-23 but the next upswing in road investment will be driven by the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link. This project has recently been pushed back to start in 2022 at the earliest and the $A14 billion cost estimate may be revised upwards.
However, while only $A165m was committed for planning in the Budget, the Half-Yearly Review committed funding towards construction on two components of the project over the forward estimates to 2022-23; $2.2 billion for the Western Harbour Tunnel and $1.4 billion for the Warringah Freeway Upgrade. Coffs Harbour Bypass and F6 extension are also scheduled to get underway in the early 2020s.
Major rail project activity is set to drop in 2019-20 following the early – and under budget – completion of Sydney Metro Northwest in mid-2019 while the delayed CBD and South East Light Rail is also in the final stages. The $A12 billion Sydney Metro City and Southwest will put a solid floor under rail activity until its estimated completion in the mid-2020s but it will be Sydney Metro West – the largest new public project within the forecast horizon – that will drive activity higher.
Sydney Metro West is currently costed at $A20 billion but some estimates are as high as $A25 billion and it is now not expected to be operational until 2030. The North South Metro Rail Link, which will service Western Sydney Airport, will also support rail activity through the mid-2020s, with the New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments committing a combined $A5.5 billion.
In November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $A3.8 billion in national infrastructure funding would be brought forward or added to the pipeline. However, the $A570 million infrastructure package allocated to New South Wales will not make much impact on the state’s overall project pipeline. $A530 million of the package represents accelerated funding across three major regional projects: $A185 million for the Toowoomba to Seymour corridor; $A200 million for the Newell Highway; and $A145 million for the Princes Highway corridor.