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Portal:Australian roads

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The Australian roads portal

Introduction

A large, long truck on a two-lane road
Road train on the Stuart Highway, through the centre of Australia

Highways in Australia are generally high capacity roads managed by state and territory government agencies, though Australia's federal government contributes funding for important links between capital cities and major regional centres. Prior to European settlement, the earliest needs for trade and travel were met by narrow bush tracks, used by tribes of Indigenous Australians. The formal construction of roads began in 1788, after the founding of the colony of New South Wales, and a network of three major roads across the colony emerged by the 1820s. Similar road networks were established in the other colonies of Australia. Road construction programs in the early 19th century were generally underfunded, as they were dependent on government budgets, loans, and tolls; while there was a huge increase in road usage, due to the Australian gold rushes. Local government authorities, often known as Road Boards, were therefore established to be primarily responsible for funding and undertaking road construction and maintenance. The early 1900s saw both the increasingly widespread use of motorised transportation, and the creation of state road authorities in each state, between 1913 and 1926. These authorities managed each state's road network, with the main arterial roads controlled and maintained by the state, and other roads remaining the responsibility of local governments. The federal government became involved in road funding in the 1920s, distributing funding to the states. The depression of the 1930s slowed the funding and development of the major road network until the onset on World War II. Supply roads leading to the north of the country were considered vital, resulting in the construction of Barkly, Stuart, and Eyre Highways.

The decades following the war saw substantial improvements to the network, with freeways established in cities, many major highways sealed, development of roads in northern Queensland and Western Australia under the Beef Cattle Roads Grants Acts, and interstate routes between Sydney and Melbourne upgraded. In 1974, the federal government assumed responsibility for funding the nations most important road links, between state and territory capitals cities, which were declared National Highways. Some sections of the 16,000-kilometre-long (9,900 mi) National Highway system were no more than dirt tracks, while others were four lane dual carriageways. The network was gradually improved, and by 1989, all gravel road sections had been sealed. In the following decades, the National Highway system was amended through legislation, and was eventually superseded in 2005 by the broader National Land Transport Network, which included connections to major commercial centres, and intermodal freight transport facilities. Read more...

Selected article

Mitchell Freeway with the Joondalup railway line in the median

Mitchell Freeway is a 30-kilometre-long (19 mi) freeway in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, linking central Perth with the satellite city of Joondalup. It is the northern section of State Route 2, which continues south as Kwinana Freeway and Forrest Highway. Along its length are interchanges with several major roads, including Graham Farmer Freeway and Reid Highway. The southern terminus of the Mitchell Freeway is at the Narrows Bridge, which crosses the Swan River, and the northern terminus is at Hester Avenue, Clarkson, a suburb within the City of Wanneroo.

Planning for the route began in the 1950s, and the first segment in central Perth was constructed between 1967 and 1973. The Mitchell Freeway has been progressively extended north since then. In the 1970s, the first two extensions were completed, up to Hutton Street in Osborne Park. By the end of the 1980s, the freeway had reached Ocean Reef Road in Edgewater. The Joondalup railway line was constructed in the freeway median in the early 1990s. This necessitated the relocation of a section of the southbound carriageway, and the construction of three new bridges. In conjunction with these works, additional lanes were constructed in the realigned section.

Since the 1990s, extensions to the Mitchell Freeway have taken it to Burns Beach Road at the northern edge of Joondalup. During 2013, two sections of the northbound carriageway will be widened with an additional lane. In August 2017, an extension was completed to Hester Avenue, after construction starting in 2014. Further works are planned, which will take the freeway past Yanchep and Two Rocks to the boundary of the Perth Metropolitan Region. Read more...

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