2020 Federal Budget.

Council gets cash to create Nepean Highway boulevard

The road race is on: Frankston has 15 months to implement $4.2m in local works

Frankston City Council will receive $4.2 million from the Federal Government to boost recovery from the coronavirus.

The grant, from the government’s “Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program”, was part of the “use it or lose it” funding announced in the Budget on Tuesday night by federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Frankston’s funding was confirmed on Thursday by Victorian Liberal Senator David Van, “patron” of Dunkley electorate.

Committee for Greater Frankston CEO Ginevra Hosking said it was fantastic news for the city. “I understand the council gets to decide how to spend the grant within the program’s guidelines, which include footpaths, community space, streetlights, walking tracks, bike paths and even barbecue facilities,” she said. “The focus is on ‘the local council, employing local people, to drive local Covid recovery’. However, the projects under this Budget stimulus program must be completed by the end of 2021.”

Ms Hosking said the federal grant – combined with the state government’s recently announced “Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package” for summer – would enable Frankston’s soon-to-be-elected councillors to fast-track redevelopment of Nepean Highway, the city’s northern gateway, and create Covid-safe outdoor dining areas to help revive the Frankston economy.

“Nepean Highway renewal will enable residents and visitors to reclaim the precinct. Imagine a summer’s day with the family at the nearby beach and then strolling up to get an ice cream or a snack, and later going out for dinner,” she said. “It’s time to revamp our gateway and show the rest of Melbourne the advantages of our bayside city.”

The committee has been vigorously advocating for revitalisation of Nepean Highway, and has sought feedback from residents, community groups, property owners and VicRoads for several months.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to provide work for locals during construction; revitalise the precinct to benefit traders, cafe and restaurant owners and their staff; and bring people back to the CBD for a Covid-safe summer,” Ms Hosking said.

“The Budget stimulus money will have to be spent by the end of 2021. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the new money came with conditions. ‘Funding for these shovel-ready projects will be provided on a use it or lose it basis. We need works to start, not stall.’”

Rail extension funds safe in Federal Budget, but state govt still not on board

Tuesday’s federal Budget revealed Canberra remains steadfastly committed to the proposed Frankston rail extension, says the Committee for Greater Frankston.

The full $225 million in funding for the project remains locked in the Federal Budget and is available within the forward estimates. This funding would enable further detailed planning works to begin – with the proviso the Victorian Government gave the project the green light.

Committee CEO Ginevra Hosking said the advocacy group and “other sections of the community are greatly relieved the federal government is still on board”. “There was little progress made on the project last year due to the State Government delaying and refusing to commit to the project, which will extend the metropolitan electrified train line beyond Frankston to Langwarrin and/or Baxter, at an estimated cost of $500 million plus, and unlock a host of benefits,” she said.

“Many people in the community thought the project was a done deal after the 2018 federal Budget. It is not. If the Victorian government does not back the project, and match the federal commitment, it cannot go ahead. State inaction places our federal funding in jeopardy.”

She said the extension was listed earlier this year as a national infrastructure five-year priority project. “The extension is now even more important – to stimulate our economy as greater Melbourne emerges from two brutal Covid lockdowns.

“It will be Frankston’s most important public transport project. It will provide a backbone to radically improve public transport; connecting 13,500 residents of Frankston’s eastern suburbs, 24,000 Langwarrin area residents and 165,000 Mornington Peninsula residents to the metropolitan network; transforming Frankston CBD parking; and servicing Monash University and Frankston Hospital.”

Ms Hosking said there was an echo from the past linking a pandemic with a rejected rail extension.

“A Victorian parliamentary committee recommended electrifying the line from Frankston to Baxter and on to Mornington in 1929,” she said. “It was rejected by the state government as the nation and state battled to recover from the First World War, the 1918–19 influenza pandemic, and recession caused by falling prices for Australia’s key exports of wool and wheat.

“The 1929 Great Depression further harmed our economy and it took Australia almost a decade to recover. The extension was never built and our region has been waiting for adequate public transport ever since.

“Life was hard enough before the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions. Now we need a massive boost and the rail extension will provide it on many levels.”

Federal Budget boost for major west–east arterial

Duplication of Lathams Road and Hall Road will be jointly funded by the State and Federal Government

The Federal Government will contribute $84.5 million toward upgrading the section of Hall Road between Skye and Cranbourne West.

The matched contribution grant was announced in Tuesday’s federal Budget. The Hall Road upgrade was originally announced by the Victorian government in May 2019. It will cost $169 million in total with the state government funding the other 50 per cent.

The state government is also seeking tenders for the duplication of Lathams Road, which will cost about $80 million, co-funded by both governments.

Lathams Road becomes Hall Road at Frankston–Dandenong Road and together the works will create a much-needed, four-lane west–east arterial, connecting Carrum Downs Industrial Estate, EastLink tollway and the growing Cranbourne area. A shared walking–cycling will be built along its entire length.

Committee for Greater Frankston CEO Ginevra Hosking said it was pleasing to see the federal and state governments cooperating and jointly funding “our region’s road projects”. “Now both governments must cooperate on the proposed Frankston rail extension to fix our region’s public transport system.”