Minister Bailey now 200 days late with Bruce Highway Planning
Already funded upgrades to the Bruce Highway between Caloundra and Pine Rivers will have been delayed by 200 days on Saturday by Queensland State Labor Minister Mark Bailey. Without the long-overdue Bruce Highway planning study, promised by the end of 2017 both publicly and privately by the Minister to Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace, upgrades to this section of the road cannot go ahead.
Mr Wallace asked “When are we going to see this planning study Minister Bailey? Sunshine Coast commuters are used to long delays on the Bruce, but after 200 days we have simply had enough.”
Mr Wallace has written to Minister Bailey and his department on ten occasions since November 2017 calling for the immediate release of this planning study, only receiving a reply on 17 July. This reply did not provide a publication date, stating only that a portion of the planning study would be completed in ‘mid-2018’. This is despite the Minister saying in a public statement of 21 June 2017 that the “$8 million planning study is currently being fast-tracked for completion later this year”.
“While Minister Bailey has dragged his feet and continued to fail the people of the Sunshine Coast, our Federal MPs have been working hard to get the funding we need from Canberra. The Commonwealth Government has allocated $3.13 billion to upgrading the Bruce Highway between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, while the State Government have not even delivered a planning study. What is the difference? It is that we care about getting Sunshine Coast commuters home faster and safer and we are willing to put in the resources needed to make that happen.” Mr Wallace said.
The planning study was commissioned in 2016 and was supported by an 80% contribution to the costs from the Federal Government. The upgrade project is expected to include adding an extra lane to the highway each way between Caloundra and Caboolture. The 2017/18 Federal Budget included $120 million for upgrades to the Deception Bay interchange, and $530 million for additional upgrades between Caloundra and Pine Rivers. The 2018/19 Budget allocated an additional $880 million for further upgrades on the same stretch of the road as well as $150 million for the Murrumba Downs section.
Mr Wallace said “It is not good enough for the Minister to pass the buck, talking about the proposed scheduling of the Federal Government’s payments. When Minister Bailey’s overdue planning study is released, and when he has committed to getting the project underway as soon as possible, I can and I will fight in Canberra to bring those first Federal Government payments forward. But without the planning study that Minister Bailey promised 200 days ago, these upgrades cannot even be scheduled.”
“The money is there. The Federal Government is ready to go. On behalf of Sunshine Coast commuters, please Minister Bailey, release this planning study now.” He said.