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...

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Houghton Highway at sunset

The Houghton Highway is a 2.74 km (1.70 mi) reinforced concrete viaduct, the second bridge to be built across Bramble Bay connecting the cities of Redcliffe and Brisbane in Queensland, Australia (the first bridge was the Hornibrook Bridge). The bridge, along with the third bridge, the Ted Smout Memorial Bridge, were the longest bridges in the country until 27 March 2013, when the Macleay River Bridge opened in Kempsey, NSW.

Originally built to duplicate the crossing capacity, almost immediately after opening it was converted to a three lane roadway with 'peak flow' lane control as a result of the proposed upgrading of the Hornibrook Bridge being deemed uneconomic. The intended crossing capacity was finally provided with the opening of the Ted Smout Memorial Bridge in 2010. Read more...

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Did you know...

  • ... that a committee in the 1920s raised the funds to turn a collection of tracks into Anzac Avenue, the longest World War I memorial road in Queensland?
  • ... that local Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell called for the Brighton Bypass to be scrapped, stating that to continue construction "would be cultural vandalism, on an extreme scale"?
  • ... that a grader which broke down during construction of Gary Junction Road had to be towed over 800 kilometres (500 mi), travelling at just 3 kilometres per hour (1.9 mph)?

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