Rail cor­ri­dor forges ahead

STATE BUD­GET

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY

A NEW rail line by­pass­ing the city via Stu­art could be brought for­ward ear­lier than ex­pected, with the State Gov­ern­ment buy­ing the last par­cel of land needed for the pro­ject.

Trea­surer Curtis Pitt will now con­sider fast- track­ing the Townsville Eastern Ac­cess Rail Cor­ri­dor ( TEARC) un­der the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s $ 5 bil­lion North­ern Aus­tralia in­fra­struc­ture fund.

The State Bud­get al­lo­cated $ 444,000 to fi­nalise land ac­qui­si­tion for the pro­ject, which will in­clude a rail line branch­ing off at Clu­den and con­tin­u­ing next to the Port Ac­cess Rd.

As re­vealed by the Bul­letin yesterday, the Bud­get also com­mit­ted $ 50 mil­lion for a new pri­mary school at North Shore, to be open for the 2018 school year, and $ 40 mil­lion to be­gin con­struc­tion on a high school also in the city’s north-

The State

Bud­get al­lo­cated $ 444,000

to fi­nalise land ac­qui­si­tion for the

pro­ject

ern cor­ri­dor to be open by 2020. A to­tal of $ 100 mil­lion over four years was com­mit­ted for the CBD sta­dium pro­ject, es­ti­mated to cost a to­tal of $ 200 mil­lion.

In a re­cent let­ter to his fed­eral coun­ter­part Joe Hockey, Mr Pitt said he would con­sider bring­ing for­ward TEARC if the pro­ject could ac­cess the Com­mon­wealth’s $ 5 bil­lion North­ern Aus­tralia loan fa­cil­ity.

“I re­it­er­ate that the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment be­lieves the peo­ple of North Queens­land de­serve real, new Com­mon­wealth fund­ing for in­fra­struc­ture projects, rather than con­ces­sional loans that may have a range of un­known and po­ten­tially re­stric­tive con­di­tions at­tached to them,” Mr Pitt said.

“How­ever, in the in­ter­est of pri­ori­tis­ing jobs and eco­nomic growth in re­gional Queens­land, the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment stands will­ing to work with the Com­mon­wealth to seek to es­tab­lish ap­pro­pri­ate ar­range­ments for the fund so that North Queens­land can ac­cess its fair share of these con­ces­sional loans.”

Port of Townsville chief ex­ec­u­tive Ra­nee Crosby said she wel­comed the move to bring for­ward the pro­ject.

Ms Crosby said the port would look to part­ner with Queens­land Rail and the State Gov­ern­ment to se­cure fund­ing for the pro­ject.

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