THE Queensland Government today confirmed construction would soon begin on four major road upgrades worth more than $95 million in far north Queensland.
More than $40 million will be spent on upgrading a 500km stretch of the Flinders Highway between Townsville and Richmond.
An additional $53 million will be used to widen the Kennedy Developmental Road between Mount Garnet and The Lynd, and progressively seal 264km of the road between The Lynd and Hughenden.
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Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Department of Transport and Main Roads had been waiting for the Federal Government to activate their funds.
“Now that the Commonwealth has released its share of funding, construction can start on the North Queensland projects,” Mr Pitt said.
“For me, these projects are always about jobs and the sooner we can get surveyors and geotechs on site, the sooner we can get the heavy machinery on site to get major works underway.
“I must say that I’m concerned about the time it’s taken the Federal Government to activate these funds, at a time when Townsville needs as much support as possible to stimulate local jobs.
“The Palaszczuk Government has had our full share of funding for these four projects available since my Budget last June – in fact we have funds ready to go for all the projects announced under the Northern Australia Roads Programme (NARP).
“I’m relieved that we can now get on with delivering these vital upgrade projects that will greatly improve safety and travel times on the Flinders Highway and Kennedy Developmental Road.”
Minister for Main Roads Mark Bailey said construction on all four projects would begin in the coming months.
“The Palaszczuk Government has had our funding set aside from the beginning and we’ve worked hard to get federal funding for Queensland roads under NARP because we know how important our roads are to North Queensland’s economy,” Mr Bailey said.
“Pavement widening on the Kennedy Developmental Road between Mount Garnet and the Lynd is expected to be completed by late 2017.
“Sealing works between the Lynd and Hughenden are expected to be completed by late 2020.
“Works between Townsville and Torrens Creek are expected to be completed by early 2019 and upgrades to culverts between Charters Towers and Richmond are expected to be completed by late 2019.”
Mr Bailey said while it was great the Federal Government was delivering on their promise, they had short changed Queensland when it comes to regional roads.
“The Federal government originally allocated $375 million in NARP funding for Queensland in their budget, but they went back on their word allocating $223.8 million, ripping Queenslanders off by more than $150 million,” he said.
“We put forward 26 projects and, had our 20 per cent funding on the table for all of them, but the Federal government only committed to ten projects.
“This means projects like installing overtaking lanes or improving heavy vehicle safety on the Flinders Highway between Townsville and Charters Towers miss out.”
Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke said Queensland has more than 186,000 km of roads, including 33,000km of state-controlled roads, which is more than any other state or territory.
“It’s great to see this funding finally flow through, but it’s not enough. North Queensland deserves the additional $150 million funding we were promised from the beginning,” Mrs O’Rourke said.
“We need these projects to happen, to get shovels in the ground and to support regional jobs, our local communities and local industries deserve nothing less.”