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Prime Mover Magazine

Federal Government announces $730 million in North QLD strategic corridors

North Queensland will receive $730 million in funding to open up road transport and local industry the Federal Government announced today.

The upgrades across 700 kilometres of road include the first inland sealed highway from Cairns to Melbourne.

Completion of the Hann Highway is anticipated to reduce 12 hours of travel time from Mareeba to Melbourne making it a major win for fruit growers.

The upgrades are part of an infrastructure rebuild connecting western parts of Queensland to the coast while helping North Queensland recover from some of the worst floods on record.

With a federal election in May, the government has ramped up its commitment to creating greater efficiencies in road transport by connecting key freight roads in agriculture and mining regions, airports and transport hubs.

Sealing the Springsure to Tambo route, one of the upgrades announced, is expected to cut eight hours of a round trip saving Queensland farmers an estimated $1400 per trip.

Cattle producers and livestock transport are also likely to see significant reductions in costs according to a release issued by the Federal Government.

The CSIRO projects the Queensland agriculture industry will save $4.6 million a year from this road upgrade alone.

Road access will also be improved. Since 2010 the Springsure to Tambo Road has been closed 21 times.

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals’ Leader Michael McCormack said the ROSI initiative funding would make roads safer and boost productivity.

“This investment is yet another part of the Liberal and Nationals’ vision to get people home sooner and safer, no matter where they live,” said McCormack.

“It will increase efficiency, productivity and improve the supply chain," he said.

“By making the freight system more efficient, local businesses will also have more money to invest in their operations, creating more jobs and providing a vital shot in the arm for the agriculture and mining sectors, which are so important to Central and North Queensland jobs and communities.”

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the investments would help North Queensland recover and rebuild from the devastating floods they recently experienced.

“Roads are the arteries of lifeblood for these communities and better roads will get their communities pumping again,” he said.

Speaking from Townsville, Canavan said the Government would build on its efforts to ensure that work on the strategic corridors goes to local communities, as it done previously through the Beef Roads and Northern Australia Roads program.

“This will provide more jobs and more economic activity in regional towns," said Canavan.

“The funding also includes substantial investments in Central Queensland and recognises the corridor of commerce that exists between the mines of Mount Isa and the beaches and islands of Yeppoon.”

The corridor between Yeppoon and Mount Isa will receive $190 million in funding alongside the Cooktown to Weipa road upgrades. Townsville to Tennant Creek has been allocated $200 million; and Townsville to Roma would, under the plan, receive $100 million in funding.

The announcement according to Scott Buchholz, Assistant Minister Roads and Transport follows extensive consultation he has held with key stakeholders in Queensland’s north.

“The upgrade works will include road strengthening and widening, road sealing and realignment, and improvements to make them more resilient to the tropical wet season,” he said.

“This new funding injection builds on the Government’s strong record of existing infrastructure investment, whether it’s on the Bruce Highway, Northern Australia Roads Program or our various water infrastructure investments," said Buchholz.

”Input from those who live across the north and who use these roads has been crucial in identifying the corridors and we will continue to consult with them to determine priority projects."

“These vital upgrades will reduce freight costs, better connect businesses to markets and improve access and safety for local communities. Our Government’s investment in the Queensland corridors will bring jobs to the region and open up new opportunities for local businesses.”

North Queensland-based Senator Ian Macdonald said these nation-building road projects would increase liveability and revitalise commerce and tourism across the North.

“These projects will create local jobs through the construction phase, and support regional business into the future by ensuring the sustainability of supply chains,” he said.

“This announcement continues the ongoing work of the Liberal-National Government to bring iconic regional routes like the Outback Way, the Savannah Way and the Hann up to a 21st Century standard."

“Creating a viable network of inland roads has long been a goal of the Liberal-National Government, and the flooding on the Bruce this past wet season has demonstrated the need for alternative inland routes.”

The Government has made a $3.5 billion nationwide investment over the next decade through the Roads of Strategic Importance program.

At present it has already committed nearly $3.9 billion in funding for major projects on the Bruce Highway through North Queensland.

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