Road row erupts
MPs clash over Mt Low turn-off funding blowout
A POLITICAL row has erupted over claims an upgrade to a notorious stretch of the Bruce Highway near Mt Low could be stalled because of a funding blowout.
The road has become the subject of intense public scrutiny after several serious accidents.
A public rally in September this year resulted in both State and Federal governments vowing to have the road upgraded.
The Townsville Bulletin yesterday reported claims by Herbert MP Peter Lindsay that the cost for the upgrade could blow out by $15 million.
He added Main Roads had failed to submit funding costs on schedule, which would prolong the start date of the project.
But Thuringowa MP Craig Wallace yesterday hit back at the claims, labelling them a ‘smokescreen’.
‘‘I hope Mr Lindsay is not using this as a smokescreen to get out of his promise, both written and verbal, to secure the funds for the upgrade,’’ Mr Wallace said.
‘‘I give a warning to Mr Lindsay if this is not committed I will make his life hell until the funds come through.’’
But Mr Lindsay said the Federal Government was committed to funding the road and wanted the project to go ahead as soon as possible.
‘‘I have expressed my resolve to the community that I am determined to get the money so there is no weaseling out,’’ Mr Lindsay said.
‘‘My beef is the cost of the road has blown out from $30 million to about $40 to $45 million.’’
Mr Lindsay said a funding estimate from Main Roads was due in by December this year and the State had failed to ‘honour that commitment’.
But Mr Wallace said the Federal Government needed to fund the road so works can go ahead.
‘‘Mr Lindsay has committed in September at least $40 million for the project, I’ve got that in writing,’’ Mr Wallace said.
‘‘Where is the $40 million? Is he now saying he can’t deliver those funds?’’
Mr Wallace said the claim of a funding blowout was unwarranted.
‘‘How can it blow out when t h e r e w a s n o budget?’’ he said.
‘‘There has been no costs given and the costings won’t be known until the end of January.’’
Mr Wallace denied the State had stalled the project by not having funding costs submitted by the end o f t h e y e a r a s w a s promised.
‘‘We’re not stalling, we’ve bought forward the design, as agreed with his (Mr Lindsay’s) government, the costings are on time as agreed.
‘‘We’ve bought forward the works by putting in t h e l i g h t s a h e a d o f schedule.
‘‘(We’ve worked) with Mr Lindsay’s government to draw up the plans and they will be finished by the middle to end of January and given to the Federal Government,’’ he said.
‘‘If they could commit now we could get a construction company in immediately so we could start work as soon as the funds come through.’’