THE PROBLEM: A woman, 89, was transported to Sunshine Coast University Hospital in an induced coma, after being cut from this crashed vehicle at the Bells Bridge intersection.
THE PROBLEM: A woman, 89, was transported to Sunshine Coast University Hospital in an induced coma, after being cut from this crashed vehicle at the Bells Bridge intersection. Renee Albrecht

Plenty of talk, not so much action on highway upgrade debate

DEBATE over the promised upgrade of the Wide Bay and Bruce highways intersection at Bells Bridge became a clash of old sayings yesterday.

"No time like the present” was the view advanced by Gympie state MP Tony Perrett, who accused the State Government of finding "another excuse to not fix” the notorious intersection.

"Fools rush in” seemed to sum up the view of Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey, who said the only hold-up was a necessary public consultation process.

Mr Perrett accused the State Government of putting the job on hold.

"The minister has advised me this week that it won't be fixed any time soon,” Mr Perrett said.

"This is despite the Federal Government already having put up its $11.2 million share of the $14 million project in May last year.

"All the state has to do is find $2.8 million to get its job done.

"The minister says they are now 'currently re-evaluating the preliminary design, based on community feedback ... with an opportunity to potentially amend the scope of works'.

"What community feedback is he talking about? Because everyone I speak to wants this fixed now. All this is just bureaucrat speak for 'we have another excuse not to do it'.”

Mr Perrett said this confirmed his suspicions after seeing last month's state budget and noting that funding for the intersection was not mentioned until 2021-22.

Mr Bailey said community consultation was an important part of the project and accused Mr Perrett of being "confused”.

"It's no surprise he wants this project to proceed without community consultation,” he said.

"Because the former Newman government definitely wasn't listening to the Queensland people when they slashed roads and transport funding by $600 million, stalling road infrastructure projects across Queensland while spending up big secretly preparing to sell off Queensland's assets.”

Mr Bailey said $200 million was on the table for Section D of Cooroy to Curra and the State Government welcomed Canberra's recent commitment to 80 per cent funding.

"Section D will bypass the Wide Bay Highway intersection and this allows us to potentially alter the scope of works for the intersection,” he said.

Mr Perrett said Mr Bailey had promised a 2018 start on state budget day last year, not the 2021-22 start now likely.

Gympie Times


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