Up­grade en­dan­gered

Fund­ing blowout may af­fect work on no­to­ri­ous sec­tion of high­way

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - By SELINA SHAR­RATT

A FUND­ING blowout may stall the up­grade for the no­to­ri­ous North­ern Beaches sec­tion of the Bruce High­way.

The Mt Low Park­way sec­tion has been the sub­ject of sev­eral fiery de­bates af­ter a se­ries of po­ten­tially deadly ac­ci­dents.

In Septem­ber the com­mu­nity out­cry had seem­ingly paid off when a com­mit­ment from both state and fed­eral tiers of gov­ern­ment was given to fund an up­grade by 2008or early 2009.

But in what Her­bert MP Peter Lind­say has de­scribed as a ‘shock re­port’ from the State’s Main Roads de­part­ment, fund­ing to widen the road to four lanes and other im­prove­ments to the area has blown out by a mas­sive $15 mil­lion.

Mr Lind­say said he had been told by Main Roads the es­ti­mated cost to up­grade the area would be $30 mil­lion.

‘‘But now, just weeks later, the cost has in­creased by around $15 mil­lion.’’

Mr Lind­say said he would fight ‘ tooth and nail’ to se­cure the ex­tra funds.

‘‘If I can get the green light from Can­berra for the ex­tra fund­ing, Main Roads will pro­ceed to de­tail a de­sign, a process that will nor­mally take to the end of June 2007,’’ Mr Lind­say said.

A Main Roads spokesman said yes­ter­day no fi­nal fig­ure had been de­ter­mined for the project to go ahead.

Mr Lind­say said Main Roads had given a com­mit­ment to have the fi­nal cost­ings for the project ready by Christ­mas.

‘‘The longer the Gov­ern­ment waits for the cost­ings the longer the project will take to get started,’’ Mr Lind­say said.

A Main Roads spokesman said a price would be fi­nalised by the end of Jan­uary 2007.

‘‘There is, as yet, no firm cost es­ti­mate for the project,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘It is still be­ing de­vel­oped and will be fi­nalised by the end of Jan­uary 2007.

‘‘Main Roads met with fed­eral De­part­ment of Trans­port and Re­gional Ser­vices of­fi­cers in midDe­cem­ber 2006, to have pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions about plan­ning progress on a range of projects that are cur­rently un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

‘‘... DoTaRS has asked for a for­mal sub­mis­sion with a firm cost es­ti­mate by end Jan­uary 2007.

‘‘The sub­mis­sion will be in time for con­sid­er­a­tion for the fed­eral bud­get fund­ing cy­cle.’’

But Thuringowa Di­vi­sion 1 c o u n c i l l o r S a n d r a Ch­es­ney said res­i­dents had been as­sured by State Lib- eral and La­bor politi­cians the money would be avail­able.

She said the prom­ises were made to the com­mu­nity dur­ing a fiery com­mu­nity rally in Septem­ber this year.

‘‘At the pub­lic meet­ing they as­sured the com- mu­nity that the money was there and at that point in time they didn’t know the full cost­ings but they as­sured the com­mu­nity the money would be there,’’ Ms Ch­es­ney said.

‘‘So I don’t give a damn where they get the money from, whether it’s state or fed­eral, they just have to get it, end of story.

‘‘I don’t think the com­mu­nity will settle for less.’’

She said the planned up­grades needed to start im­me­di­ately in or­der to avert tragedy.

‘‘This is just a stall tac­tic and it is a load of rub­bish,’’ she said. ‘‘ We are not wait­ing for this.

‘‘Frankly we have had enough.

‘‘This game of go­ing tit for tat and who is go­ing to pay for what just can’t keep go­ing be­cause peo­ple’s lives are at risk.

‘‘The whole three tiers of gov­ern­ment have been re­ally slack be­cause they have not recog­nised the dan­ger­ous con­di­tions of this road.’’

The fi­nal up­grades to the area are set to in­clude an over­pass north-bound on the Bruce High­way which crosses over the in­bound lane of the high­way and feeds into Mt Low Park­way.

Four sets of traf­fic lights cost­ing $500,000 will be in­stalled to fix the dan­ger­ous stretch of high­way at the Mount Low Park­way turnoff be­fore school starts next Jan­uary.

There are plans to build a ring road to feed traf­fic off the high­way at Shaw Rd and Veales Rd.

JZJ03595

TOP M P Lind­say . . . Her­bert

P e t e r

LEFT . . . Lau­rie, Tonita and Jade G a l e a v i e w plans

RIGHT . . . Cr San­dra Ch­es­ney with pe­ti­tions on the road

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