Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt will be supporting the Wrights Creek to Deppeler Road section of Option 2 that sees additional lanes on the eastern side of the existing highway.

“Since the draft options were announced in November, I’ve had many meetings with potentially affected property holders including residents, business owners, and religious groups, to hear their concerns first-hand,” Mr Pitt said.

“One of my first meetings was with representatives from the Queensland Sikh Association regarding the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple.

“The temple is a place of worship and of great cultural significance to the Indian Sikh Community and would be impacted by both Options 1 and 3.

“Last week I met with Darryl Madder to hear the potential impacts on the Mad About Plants Wholesale Nursery. Before the meeting, I assumed that the business may simply be able to relocate to a new site if necessary.

“I now understand that due to the site-specific conditions, the infrastructure in place and an inability to replicate the twenty-four years of growing time for plants, it would not under any circumstances be viable for the business to reopen if forced to close.

“This would affect the employment of some twenty-seven families.”

Following these meetings, and taking into consideration the broader issues such as the Mount Peter Master Planning process, Mr Pitt said he was convinced that moving the highway east of the current alignment would be the best outcome.

“Construction works for a project must be assessed on providing the best option for the community as a whole,” Mr Pitt said.

“Relocation of the railway line, fibre optic cable and other utilities comes with a price tag, but I cannot adopt an option simply because it may be the least expensive.”

But Mr Pitt reiterated that while three distinct options are being presented for the transport corridor update, a preferred option has not been identified and the final solution could be a combination of elements from all three.

“I want to be clear that supporting the Wrights Creek to Deppeler Road section of Option 2 does not mean that I support this option hands down.

“I do not support the interchange that is mooted for Mill Road in Option 2. This would not be desirable for the Edmonton business community and it would be very difficult to achieve free flow of traffic through this intersection during a construction phase.

“My preference is for an interchange at Bentley Park, which features in both Options 1 and 3.”

Mr Pitt said that while the acquisition of some properties will be required with an upgrade of this scale, the Government is working to minimise impacts on private and commercial properties as much as possible.

“While some properties may need to be acquired, the majority of these will take place in the medium to long term,” Mr Pitt said.

“Resumptions are serious business. We are dealing with people’s lives, their homes and their businesses and we understand this puts pressure on families and relationships.

“I’ve given my commitment to work hard on behalf of anyone whose property will ultimately be affected to ensure that the process happens as quickly as possible, that people are treated compassionately, compensated fairly and with the minimum amount of stress and anxiety.”

Mr Pitt said that like many Far North Queenslanders, he’ll be making a submission to government regarding the Bruce Highway options before the community consultation period closes on Friday 18 December 2009.

“These are big plans for the city of Cairns and the Far North generally – so I would encourage people to have their say on each of the options put forward,” Mr Pitt said.