HIGH­WAY TO PERTH

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN AN­DER­SEN JANE AR­MIT­STEAD

A SEALED in­land high­way link­ing Townsville to Perth via Alice Springs is tipped to be built by 2025.

He­len Lewis, gen­eral man­ager of the Out­back High­way De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil said there was still 1700km of dirt track on the 2800km sep­a­rat­ing Win­ton from Laver­ton in Western Aus­tralia.

“We still have to seal that 1700km,” she said

“We have re­ceived $ 75 mil­lion over three years in state and fed­eral fund­ing.

“We es­ti­mate we will need another $ 500 mil­lion to seal the en­tire route.

“We are con­fi­dent that the fund­ing will be forth­com­ing and that the In­land Way will be com­plete by 2025.”

Win­ton Mayor Butch Len­ton said the road would con­nect coastal cen­tres such as Townsville to Perth via Cen­tral Aus­tralia.

“We call it Aus­tralia’s long­est short­cut,” Cr Len­ton said.

“It will pro­vide a di­rect con­nec­tion for towns along the North Queens­land coast with Western Aus­tralia.

“It will mean peo­ple cross the na­tion via cen­tre.”

Cr Len­ton

said can the

tourism, agri­cul­ture and min­ing would all be ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the In­land Way when it is com­pleted.

“There are the rea­sons to do it. Eco­nom­i­cally it will be a great thing.

“It means that trucks from North Queens­land trav­el­ling to Perth would not have to go right down south to cross the Nullar­bor.”

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it would be a hard pro­ject to pri­ori­tise for North Queens­land but didn’t rule it out.

“It has to be about pri­or­i­ties and if there is an in­dus­try need and it was seen as use­ful and a way to cre­ate jobs, I would sup­port it fully,” she said.

“But at this point, we have to pri­ori­tise.”

Cr Hill said it was the first she’d heard of the con­cept.

“It would make for a very long drive,” she said.

Townsville En­ter­prise chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Pa­tri­cia O’Cal­laghan said it was an op­tion for the fu­ture.

“There will al­ways be op­por­tu­ni­ties but at the mo­ment the pri­or­i­ties are on other roads in North­ern Aus­tralia like the Flin­ders and Bruce highways,” she said.

“I would be happy to talk to the gen­eral man­ager and dis­cuss it, but our fo­cus is on en­sur­ing those pri­or­ity roads.”

Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

HIGH­WAY WEST: Win­ton Mayor Butch Len­ton calls the pro­posed high­way Aus­ralia’s long­est short­cut.

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