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Early Christmas for North-West $33 million for Barkly Highway upgrade

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Media Release

North West Queensland today received an early Christmas present with the Federal and State Governments agreeing to a $33 million package to upgrade the Barkly Highway between Mt Isa and Cloncurry.

The Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, responded to representations about the poor condition of this National Highway road by pledging $1.5 million for the immediate commencement of upgrading work. He also committed the Federal Government to a further $31.5 million for improvements over the next three financial years.

Mr Anderson said the additional money for the Barkly Highway and his decision to fund construction of a high-level bridge over the Thomson River at Longreach demonstrated the Federal Government was listening to the people of regional and remote Australia.

"My ministry will be marked by a re-engagement with the bush and a genuine commitment to those who live there,” he said today. “My recent visit to Outback Queensland brought new insights to the issues that matter.”

“Today's announcement is a sign that I will help where I am able.”

The $33 million will fund improvements along the 120km stretch from Mount Isa to Cloncurry. The Minister also acknowledged the need for a long-term upgrading strategy for the highway between Mount Isa and Camooweal.

The Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister, Steve Bredhauer, responded positively to the package which stemmed from his recent meeting with Mr Anderson and detailed negotiations between State and Federal officers.

"I inspected the entire length of the Barkly Highway at the end of October with the Mayors of Mt Isa and Cloncurry and industry representatives, as well as part of the road into the Northern Territory to gauge the comparison,” Mr Bredhauer said.

Minister for Transport and Regional Services


25A 23rd December 1998

Joint statement with the Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Steve Bredhauer

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Tel: (02) 6277 7680 Fax: (02) 6273 4 126

"To his credit, the Federal Minister also came to the west and saw for himself the need for action. I am delighted we have convinced him of the necessity for this funding commitment and that he has given the Barkly Highway priority early in his new ministry.”

The ministers said the first funding from the $33 million package would be applied to three urgent jobs, replacing the last sections of narrow 5.6 metre-wide bitumen with unsealed shoulders between Mount Isa and Cloncurry by:

• widening the section 81.5km to 84.6km from Cloncurry, including passing lanes;

• widening and reconstructing the section 48km to 54.3km west of the town;

• realigning the S-bends near Clem Walton Park, 54.3km to 60km from Cloncurry, and constructing passing lanes.

About 190 direct and indirect jobs will be created or sustained in the roads construction industry over each year of the construction period.

Mr Anderson said the program would start as soon as practicable in 1999, after the end of the wet season and following the calling of competitive tenders.

“Upgrading this route to a much better standard will improve reliability of freight delivery to outback towns, improve efficiency of the pastoral industry and underpin the export earning capacity of the vast North West mineral province.

"Within three years, the Mount Isa - Cloncurry route will be open to full unrestricted Type 2 road train operations - a substantial advance towards improving the vital road transport link serving much of North West Queensland.”

There will also be major benefits to the tourism industry through improved traffic safety, particularly for motorists towing caravans, and better flood immunity. This means the tourist season can be extended, allowing an increase in the estimated 300,000 passenger trips made each year on this section of the highway.

The Mount Isa to Camooweal section has not been forgotten. Work will start in April 2000 on replacing 22 kilometres of single-lane bitumen, following completion of detailed planning and design by Main Roads Cloncurry. This $14.2 million project will begin 110 kilometres

west of Mt Isa, and includes the Inca Creek Bridge and approaches.

Media contacts: Mr Anderson’s office - Paul Chamberlin (02) 62777680 / 0419 233989 Mr Bredhauer’s office - Harry Williams (07) 32354826 / 0407 131654