Stay­ing on the move as peo­ple pour in

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View -

WITH Queens­land’s pop­u­la­tion boom show­ing lit­tle sign of slow­ing, its trans­port in­fra­struc­ture is be­ing pushed to keep pace.

A boom­ing re­source sec­tor, cou­pled with ris­ing tourism rates, has led to the Sun­shine State pour­ing bil­lions into its roads and rail - more than any other state. The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted a record $ 3.05 bil­lion to­wards roads in­fra­struc­ture in the 2007 bud­get alone.

In ad­di­tion, a multi- bil­lion dol­lar South East Queens­land In­fra­struc­ture Plan and Pro­gram ( SEQIPP) is un­der­way to out­line the in­fra­struc­ture pri­or­i­ties of the pop­u­lar south- east re­gion.

One of Aus­tralia’s fastest- grow­ing ur­ban ar­eas, the pop­u­la­tion of south- east Queens­land is es­ti­mated to reach around four mil­lion by 2026 - an in­crease of more than one mil­lion. In trans­port terms, that means an ad­di­tional five mil­lion more trips each day as peo­ple travel to and from an es­ti­mated 575,000 ad­di­tional dwellings and 425,000 new jobs.

The SEQIPP an­tic­i­pates an in­fra­struc­ture ex­pen­di­ture of some $ 82 bil­lion over the next 20 years. This is com­prised of al­most $ 35 bil­lion in road, rail and pub­lic trans­port projects, and $ 78 mil­lion to in­ves­ti­gate an­other pos­si­ble $ 15 bil­lion worth of road and pub­lic trans­port projects. ◗ ROADS .............................................................. THERE are al­most 2500 road projects be­ing planned and con­structed in Queens­land over the next five years.

At a cost of $ 1.8 bil­lion, the Gate­way Bridge du­pli­ca­tion is the largest.

At the cen­tre of the Gate­way Mo­tor­way ( M1), which skirts the east­ern sub­urbs of Bris­bane, the project has sig­nif­i­cant so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits for Queens­land and will en­sure the Gate­way Mo­tor­way con­tin­ues to meet the re­gion’s grow­ing trans­port needs.

Slated for to­tal com­ple­tion in mid 2011, the project is be­ing pro­gres­sively de­liv­ered as each new sec­tion is fi­nalised.

At $ 543 mil­lion, the Tu­gan By­pass is an­other of the state’s large un­der­tak­ings. Due to open mid year, the by­pass will link the south­ern Gold Coast and north­ern NSW. It is an­tic­i­pated that the project will re­duce the amount of traf­fic on the ex­ist­ing Gold Coast High­way by 55 per cent by 2017. In cen­tral Queens­land, the $ 75 mil­lion For­gan Bridge Du­pli­ca­tion will see a new fourlane struc­ture built to re­place the ex­ist­ing bridge. The work, which be­gan late last year, is set to be com­pleted by 2009.

As the pop­u­la­tion of cen­tral Queens­land’s north­ern beaches area grows, the soon- to- be com­pleted four- lan­ing of the Mackay- Bu­ca­sia Road will pro­vide greater ac­cess and re­duce con­jes­tion.

Fur­ther north, the Bruce High­way is be­ing up­graded in two lo­ca­tions, south of Ing­ham and south of Tully. This work is be­ing car­ried out as part of a $ 220 mil­lion fed­eral fund­ing com­mit­ment to the Bruce High­way be­tween Townsville and Cairns.

Near Tully, work con­tin­ues on a $ 128 mil­lion flood up­grade that will ad­dress a no­to­ri­ous flood trou­ble spot. In Townsville, work is un­der­way on the Townsville Ring Road, while plan­ning and de­sign is pro­ceed­ing on a new Townsville Port Ac­cess Road that will di­rectly link the Flin­ders and Bruce high­ways to the Port of Townsville. ◗ RAIL .............................................................. OF the pro­jected $ 83 bil­lion to be spent on south­east Queens­land’s in­fra­struc­ture over the next 20 years, around $ 7 bil­lion will be spent on up­grad­ing the re­gion’s rail net­work and ser­vices.

Queens­land Rail has 28 projects slated for com­ple­tion over the next 20 years, com­prised of build­ing 144km of new tracks and de­liv­er­ing 44 new trains.

Most are cen­tred around Bris­bane and ex­tend north to the Sun­shine Coast, south to the Gold Coast and to the west­ern cor­ri­dor. There are cur­rently 11 projects ei­ther in the plan­ning or con­struc­tion phase.

By around 2011, the 32km Ca­bool­ture to Lands­bor­ough sec­tion of the Nam­bour rail line to the north of Bris­bane will be du­pli­cated, paving the way for a new rail con­nec­tion to the pop­u­lar beach ar­eas of Caloun­dra and Ma­roochy­dore. To the south, there will be an ex­ten­sion of the Gold Coast rail line from Robina to Var­sity Lakes, ul­ti­mately go­ing to Coolan­gatta. There will also be a new rail line head­ing to Rich­lands in Bris­bane’s west, even­tu­ally end­ing up in Spring­field by 2015. ◗ AIR .............................................................. THE Sun­shine State’s pop­u­lar­ity amongst both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors is im­mense. Ac­cord­ing to Tourism Queens­land fig­ures for the year end­ing Septem­ber 2007, do­mes­tic overnight vis­i­tors to­talled 18.3 mil­lion and do­mes­tic day vis­i­tors to­talled 31.6 mil­lion.

Mean­while, in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to Queens­land to­talled 2.2 mil­lion for the same pe­riod. Th­ese fig­ures rep­re­sent a re­spec­tive nine and two per cent growth on the pre­vi­ous two year’s vis­i­ta­tion fig­ures.

In prac­ti­cal terms, this equates to a grow­ing level of ac­tiv­ity at the state’s main air­ports.

Bris­bane Air­port saw its pas­sen­ger num­bers grow by seven per cent in 2007, which, ac­cord­ing to cor­po­rate Re­la­tions Man­ager Jim Car­den, is an in­di­ca­tion of the strength of emerg­ing mar­kets such as China and the Mid­dle East.

‘‘ The ar­rival of China East­ern and Eti­had in 2007 at Bris­bane Air­port has brought an in­creased num­ber of con­nec­tions to world, fur­ther en­cour­ag­ing the growth of our re­gion as a tourism and busi­ness des­ti­na­tion,’’ he says.

More than 150,000 Chi­nese tourists vis­ited Queens­land last year, with the China mar­ket grow­ing at around 20 per cent per year.

Other emerg­ing mar­kets, in­clud­ing In­dia and the Con­ti­nen­tal EU, sig­nify a move away from the tra­di­tional mar­kets, with a fur­ther in­crease of ser­vices from Qan­tas, Emi­rates and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines ex­pected in 2008.

Marginally ahead in terms of growth, Gold Coast Air­port was up 7.7 per cent last year and han­dled more than 3.9 mil­lion pas­sen­gers.

This growth can be partly at­trib­uted to a 2500 me­tre run­way, opened in March last year, which en­ables di­rect con­nec­tions to Asia and the Mid­dle East. In­ter­na­tional ser­vices from Asi­aAir X and Tiger Air­ways now op­er­ate from the air­port.

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