Early work on the Cooroy-to-Curra upgrade.
Early work on the Cooroy-to-Curra upgrade. Craig Warhurst

Gympie seeks federal funds for hwy

GYMPIE Region councillors hope to wring more road safety money from Canberra – despite a disappointing budget – with a personal delegation to Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese.

Mayor Ron Dyne said yesterday it was disappointing that there was no new funding for the Gympie by-pass project to upgrade the Bruce Highway.

And he said the delegation would be seeking extra money for improvements to the Matilda intersection at Kybong, where a young man was killed this month.

“We spoke to Main Roads this morning regarding the intersection,” he said, indicating that he had revised his earlier view that the intersection had performed reasonably well since its last upgrade in 2003.

“As (Works Committee chairman) Larry Friske pointed out, there's been a 30 per cent increase in vehicle traffic there since then.”

Crs Ian Petersen and Rae Gate successfully moved that council seek an audience with Mr Albanese over the by-pass and the Matilda intersection.

In Treasurer Wayne Swan's pre-election budget, he announced $488 million of already committed money “to replace 25km of the Bruce Highway between Cooroy and Curra”.

Federal Wide Bay MP Warren Truss said the budget would disappoint “families, businesses and community groups in Wide Bay.

“People will be disappointed that the Rudd government has passed up the opportunity to take real action to improve local services and infrastructure,” he said.

“The budget provides $500 million for the new federal hospitals bureaucracy, but there is no dedicated funding for the Maryborough, Gympie, Murgon or Noosa hospitals.

“It is hard to see how Kevin Rudd's convoluted and contrived hospital plan would increase services at local hospitals when it adds another layer of expensive bureaucracy to a struggling health system.

“I am concerned that local hospital services will deteriorate under Labor's plan,” he said.

Mr Truss said motorists would be “rightfully angry” at the lack of “any commitment to upgrade the remaining 50km section between Cooroy and Curra to four lanes.

“While the budget did bring forward money for Ipswich Road in Brisbane, the Government has failed to fund any improvements to dangerous Cooroy-to-Curra section of the Bruce Highway, nor has it committed to any timetable to complete the upgrade of the entire section.

The needs of the Mary Valley have been ignored. In spite of Environment Minister Peter Garrett's commitment to support a recovery plan to protect the Valley's threatened and endangered species, the budget provides no special funding to restore economic, social or environmental security to Mary River communities.

“The ‘Caring for Country' program suffers an $81.3 million cut.

“The government has failed to deliver a regional development program that could have supported extensions to Pomona Community House, or other worthy projects.”

“We pay the price for lavish debt funded spending sprees,” he said.

Gympie Times

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