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5.9.1 Funding allocation and shares

The major limiting factor that governs decisions on which projects can be included in any program ultimately is the level of available funding (DIRD 2016). Setting this level of funding can be a complex matter requiring numerous iterations of the process. Jurisdictions and any private proponents seeking funding are expected to ensure that they can meet their portion of the project funding before submission.

Of foremost importance is the development of an investment strategy to guide decision-making from the outset. This will provide guidance for resolving the complex issues that need to be addressed during preparation of a substantial transport infrastructure program.

The investment strategy should reflect current policy choices and strategies developed in previous years. Issues to be considered in determining an investment strategy could include: pools of available funds to achieve specific policy objectives; bundling of projects together; staging of projects; priority to one mode over another (e.g. rail over road in freight transport); emphasis on particular corridors; minimum funding for jurisdictions to address equity issues; and, commitment to asset maintenance.

Funding on the basis of strategic national importance is relevant; however, equity is the main reason for having a separate fund for different project categories. A second reason is that projects off the network can be assessed against a different weighting of objectives to those projects on the designated network. The designated network includes the highly trafficked arterial routes that link the major centres of population and carry the nation’s commerce to cities and ports. Projects funded off the network are aimed more at providing access to the network for people and goods in regional and outer metropolitan areas. A simplified approach is used for assessing and allocating funding to small scale projects. Most off-network projects would fall into this category.