Port building block
Study pinpoints port access road as ‘fundamental’
AN economic study has backed the Townsville Port Access project as a ‘fundamental building block’ for the region’s industrial development.
However, it also found the benefits it would deliver in road use, emissions, noise and crash reduction were barely enough to cover its estimated $190 million cost.
The study is the Townsville Port Access Road Economic Analysis prepared by consultants Economic Associates Pty Ltd and commissioned by the Department of Main Roads.
Transport Minister Paul Lucas released the report yesterday and welcomed its findings.
He said it would be used as part of an updated submission seeking joint funding from the Federal Government next year. ‘‘The economic analysis of port access benefits concluded that there was potential to substantially expand Townsville’s in- dustry base over the next 20 years to create an international processing, manufacturing and service centre,’’ Mr Lucas said.
‘‘The study identified around $10 billion in investment that could be attracted to Townsville.
‘‘The potential investment the project could help attract if built by 2014 is 50 times the indicative $190 million cost,’’ he said. ‘‘The study emphasised that the port access is all about boosting Townsville’s potential as, when investors are considering locations for world-class development, the range of infrastructure available is a key factor.’’
The Department of Main Roads is planning for future port access at Townsville and is proposing the Townsville Port Access Project in two stages. The stages are the Stuart bypass, a new road linking the Flinders Highway and Bruce Highway at Stuart, and the Eastern Access Corridor, a new road and rail link from the Bruce Highway at Stuart to Townsville port including a new bridge at the mouth of Ross River.
While it pointed to ‘considerable potential’ for the region to attract $10 billion worth of industrial projects, it says it could not identify one project which depended on the port access project to proceed.
‘‘Although it has not been possible to identify projects which have been specifically blocked because of the lack of a TPAR (Townsville Port Access Road) corridor or which would be catalysed if the corridor were constructed, the corridor would appear to be a fundamental building block for future heavy industry development,’’ it says. It says about 1.9 million tonnes of cargo was carried into and out of the port by road in 2004-05 but that this road-based throughput was expected to grow rapidly.
‘‘This stems from the potential to develop large mineral deposits in the Charters Towers-Chillagoe districts,’’ the report says.
‘‘Ore and concentrates from expanded and new mining projects would be transported by road via either the Flinders Highway or Hervey Range Rd.’’
The development of the Pacific National rail terminal at Stuart could also increase synergies between Stuart and the port while improved transport logistics could encourage investment in live cattle exports. The cost benefit analysis found a cost benefit ratio of 1.04 for an eastern access corridor that permitted all movements on to Boundary St and 1.01 where turns on and off to Boundary St were restricted.
Both options were based on a timeline for operation from 2015.
Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney welcomed the report but was hoping for a timeframe for completion by 2010 rather than 2015.
‘‘This is an emphatic endorsement of the eastern corridor project,’’ Cr Mooney said. ‘‘It really is telling the community that this port access road is a vital part of the future for Townsville and especially the economic future of our port,’’ he said.