Portal:Australian roads

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The Australian roads portal

Introduction

Map of Australia's Highway 1
Map of Australia's Highway 1

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

View along The Causeway towards East Perth

The Causeway is an arterial traffic crossing in Perth, Western Australia, linking the inner-city suburbs of East Perth and Victoria Park. It is composed of two bridges either side of Heirisson Island that cross the Swan River at the eastern end of Perth Water. The current Causeway is the third structure to have been built across the river at this point.

Originally the site of mudflats which restricted river navigation, the Colony Government constructed a causeway and bridge across the site. The project was first planned in 1834 and opened in 1843. When floods in 1862 almost destroyed it, the structure was rebuilt using convict labour, and raised to better withstand future floods. Governor John Hampton officially opened the new Causeway on 12 November 1867. Over the following decades, the three bridges making up this second Causeway were widened several times, and they were eventually replaced in 1952.

The current Causeway bridges were designed by E W C Godfrey, and built between 1947 and 1952. They were the first in Western Australia to use steel composite construction. Large roundabouts were also constructed at each end of the structure, to improve the flow of traffic. The opening of the Graham Farmer Freeway in 2000 reduced the traffic volume on the Causeway, allowing the two central lanes to be turned into bus lanes. By the early 2000s, the concrete structures had suffered significant damage. Cracks were repaired using carbon fibre reinforcement and localised patching, extending the bridge's life by decades. The Causeway bridges have been recognised for their heritage value by their entry on the Western Australian Register of Heritage Places. Read more...

Selected video

Entering Fremantle on Queen Victoria Street, crossing the Fremantle Traffic Bridge

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Did you know...

  • ... that the Canberra road Yarra Glen does not have one of the usual roadway suffixes because the name sounds better without them?
  • ... that part of High Street in Fremantle, Western Australia, was closed in the 1960s in order to reinstate Kings Square as a town square?
  • ... the decision to only use electronic toll collection for Melbourne's CityLink was made in 1992, at a time when there was little practical experience of such systems?

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