Ring Road CQ’s project ‘glue’

The Morning Bulletin - - NEWS - MICHELLE GATELY michelle.gately@cap­news.com.au

AF­TER years of talk­ing up Rock­hamp­ton’s po­ten­tial, Coun­cil­lor Neil Fisher can fi­nally see the jig­saw puz­zle pieces fall­ing into place.

This week’s con­fir­ma­tion from the Prime Min­is­ter of $800 mil­lion in fund­ing for the Ring Road, com­bined with a sim­i­lar La­bor Party com­mit­ment, takes the $1 bil­lion project the clos­est it’s ever been to re­al­ity.

With both La­bor and Lib­eral back­ing the Ring Road fed­er­ally, it now just re­lies on the State Gov­ern­ment to com­mit the fi­nal $200 mil­lion.

The Ring Road would cre­ate a western by­pass flow­ing back into Rock­hamp­ton at the Capri­corn High­way, Ridge­lands Rd, Alexan­dra St and Yaamba Rd.

The 22km project would also in­clude a third road bridge cross­ing the Fitzroy River.

Cr Fisher, chair of Rock­hamp­ton Re­gional Coun­cil’s air­port, wa­ter and waste com­mit­tee, has long pushed the Ring Road as the glue to hold so many good Cen­tral Queens­land projects to­gether.

Rook­wood Weir is set to foster high-yield­ing crops and more agri­cul­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties, but Cr Fisher be­lieves its real value lies in boost­ing the air­port’s sta­tus as an ex­port hub.

That’s some­thing which wouldn’t reach its full po­ten­tial with­out the Ring Road link­ing to the air­port.

“It’s see­ing a vi­sion and the pieces all start­ing to come to­gether,” Cr Fisher said.

“Rook­wood is a cat­a­lyst that’s just go­ing to open up so many op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Sim­i­larly, the air­port’s ca­pac­ity to be­come a freight hub can also be re­alised with the Ring Road.

Cr Fisher de­scribed that de­vel­op­ment as “the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion”.

He said the Ring Road would also boost Rock­hamp­ton’s chances of in­creased de­fence stor­age ca­pac­ity by al­low­ing heavy mil­i­tary equip­ment to be moved around the out­skirts of the city and up to Shoal­wa­ter Bay.

The road will elim­i­nate up to 18 sets of traf­fic lights, mak­ing fly­ing cargo for mil­i­tary ex­er­cises or min­ing to Rock­hamp­ton and then trans­port­ing via road a much more at­trac­tive prospect than it is cur­rently.

The link­ages planned along the route al­ready con­nect the Grace­mere, Glen­more and Parkhurst in­dus­trial ar­eas and will greatly re­duce the num­ber of heavy trucks driv­ing through res­i­den­tial streets and school zones.

But sell­ing the road hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve had to re­ally sell our­selves and why we feel pas­sion­ate about grow­ing Rock­hamp­ton to var­i­ous lev­els of gov­ern­ment,” Cr Fisher said.

“We’re pretty rapt to get it to this stage.”

Ul­ti­mately, Cr Fisher said, the State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments should see this fund­ing as an in­vest­ment in the re­gion, which would no doubt be re­paid through eco­nomic pros­per­ity in time.

Photo: Con­trib­uted

SALES PITCH: Coun­cil­lor Neil Fisher speaks to Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son about the Rock­hamp­ton Air­port at Pol­i­tics in the Pub at the Cri­te­rion Ho­tel on Tues­day.

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