Port build­ing block

Study pin­points port ac­cess road as ‘fun­da­men­tal’

Townsville Bulletin - - News - By TONY RAGGATT busi­ness ed­i­tor

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.

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