Upgrading the Bruce Highway south of Edmonton through to Gordonvale to four lanes must be brought forward and placed fairly and squarely on the short-term agenda, Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said today.
Mr Pitt said that while outcomes of the Mount Peter Master Planning process will affect timelines for road upgrades, the planning process itself is evidence that this is priority urban growth corridor for Far North Queensland.
“Petersen Road south to Gordonvale has been identified as the last remaining land in the Cairns area with few natural constraints. This is where around 50,000 new residents will come to live in the next 15 years or so,” Mr Pitt said.
“While I don’t believe statements that the road is a ‘goat-track’ are correct, like many other locals I’m tired of playing catch up when it comes to infrastructure.
“Let’s have a mature and rational discussion about strategic planning for roads, rather than opportunistic and inappropriate remarks.
“We need to get ahead of the game, get on the front foot and meet the needs of future population growth before it’s here.”
Mr Pitt said that the Department of Transport and Main Roads has already conducted some preliminary planning, but the current priority is to upgrade a section of highway north of Edmonton where there are greater traffic volumes.
“I welcome the commitment by Labor at state and federal level of $150 million to meet future transport needs, and I certainly support any the expansion of the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Edmonton,” Mr Pitt said.
“However the requirement to reduce traffic congestion is a result of recent population growth and is a good example playing catch up to meet with current demand.
“I’m calling on the Federal Government to acknowledge the forecast population growth now and work with the State Government to fast-track road works in the Far North sooner rather than later.
“Where we have an award-winning statutory plan like FNQ 2031 that demonstrates the need, this is a very sound investment, so why wait?
“The cost of undertaking road infrastructure now will be cheaper than doing it later on and there is the added benefit of the increased employment for the region.
Mr Pitt took the opportunity to hit out at LNP Spokesman Warren Entsch’s comments about the Bligh and Rudd governments so-called ‘inaction’ on the Bruce Highway.
“This is the man who had more than 10 years in office to do something about the national highway in the Far North and failed to deliver.”
Mr Entsch should be also ashamed of himself for using the recent tragedies on our roads for political gain.
“Even the police have stated publicly that the critical factor in these incidents was speed and driver error, not the road.”
Mr Pitt was also critical of LNP calls for a second corridor option into Cairns via East Trinity, saying that there is still room to move in the existing corridor.
“Additional lanes and overpasses at key Bruce Highway intersections at Ray Jones Drive and Sheehy Road will free up cross-highway activity – which is the major cause of the current congestion,” Mr Pitt said.
“The second corridor option into Cairns is doomed to failure and would be astronomically expensive for Queensland taxpayers.
“The only people keeping alive discussion about this option are those landholders on the eastern side of Trinity Inlet who would benefit by the value of their land increasing as a result.
“Self-serving agendas like this have no place in strategic planning for the region.”