CALLOUT: What does the Coast need the most?

YOU have $100 and five choices.

Do you feed your family, put petrol in your car, pay the rent, see the doctor about that annoying cough or budget for the electricity, water and rates bills?

Each choice will have flow-on effects so how do you decide what happens first?

Add to the equation five other people vying for that lone $100 bill.

This scenario is not totally unlike the position the Sunshine Coast Council is in as it starts to lobby the State Government for the region's share of the $8.6 billion for infrastructure if its assets sales go ahead.

Mayor Mark Jamieson has put out a call for the community to speak as one voice to try to get the State Government's attention.

The council has identified five "region-making projects" to be nominated under the Strong Choices Investment Program.

The Daily has asked proponents to explain why their project should be considered first for the limited pool of cash.

Priority 1

First on the council list is the duplication and upgrade of the North Coast rail line between Beerburrum and Nambour.

Acting Mayor Chris Thompson said there were a number of arguments for this project.

"The rail duplication will dramatically improve the state's freight paths for goods, agricultural and mineral resources, improve public transport efficiency and promote the state's economic growth," Cr Thompson said.

"The Queensland Government's EIS for the project suggests a state economic benefit of $4.57 billion over the period of construction.

"Locally, the North Coast rail line duplication will support existing businesses and create opportunities for new ones, particularly in the railway towns and hinterland areas.

"It would also improve the passenger train service and ease some of the pressure on the Bruce Hwy.

"The project is estimated to create 2786 jobs at any one point in time over the seven-year construction period.

"This project has been identified as a priority in state and federal government planning and policy documents for years - now is the time to make it happen.''

Rail advocate Jeff Addison said the project was one the region could no longer afford to overlook.

"The rail duplication for the 39km from Beerburrum to Nambour is crucial," Mr Addison said.

"I understand the cost is around $770 million for 17 kilometres from Beerburrum to Landsborough and the last reliable reported cost was around $1.8 billion for the 22 kilometres from Landsborough to Nambour.

"But a 2007 engineer's report says it is likely that the region would experience adverse socio-economic effects should the NCL between Landsborough and Nambour not be upgraded.

"It can remove big transport trucks from the Bruce Hwy that could be serviced by freight trains, and that would make highway travel just that little bit safer.

"It will allow speeds of up to 160kmh along the rail line."

Priority 2

The inclusion of the upgrade of the Bruce Hwy to six lanes from Caboolture to the Sunshine Coast over the next decade is in the Bruce Hwy Action Plan.

Cr Thompson said the project was essential "if the Sunshine Coast is to grow its economy".

"The current bottlenecks are putting a handbrake on the region's growth, especially in tourism and the region's ability to move exports to the Port of Brisbane,'' he said.

"The inclusion of this project in the Bruce Hwy Action Plan for delivery over the next decade will enable the regional economy to build its exports, encourage new business investment, generate new employment opportunities, dramatically improve tourism access to the region and improve the safety and reliability of this part of the national highway."

Sunshine Coast Destination CEO Simon Ambrose said he believed all projects were important for the region, but his members would argue this should happen first.

"Most of our members say the Bruce Hwy upgrade is considerably their favourite going forward," Mr Ambrose said.

"Most of our market visitation comes from Brisbane and the ease of getting there and back is really important."

Priority 3

Upgrades to the Sunshine Coast Mwy and Nicklin Way interchange and the Mooloolah River Crossing.

Cr Thompson said this part of the state-controlled road network was a "vital linkage point in the urban coastal area".

He said it served as a "pivotal connection point to the major centres and key service points, such as the Sunshine Coast University Hospital complex, the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Maroochydore City Centre, the airport and Bruce Hwy and hinterland areas".

"This central piece of the road network is already at capacity and is experiencing major traffic flow and safety issues. As the region continues to grow, providing access to the Sunshine Coast's major commercial, residential, educational, health and community developments is critical to connecting people with employment, attracting new investment and enabling the community to access vital services."

Priority 4

High quality bus corridor providing a priority bus spine from Caloundra to Maroochydore with links to key northern and rural centres. Cr Thompson said public transport would become increasingly important with the Coast's population growing rapidly.

"Formerly known as Coast Connect, this project will provide a crucial public transport spine linking the major commercial centres and areas where much of the commercial and residential growth is planned to occur over the next 20 years.

"The development of a bus corridor spine is a pivotal part of that future and will help to ease congestion on roads and could be delivered earlier than other potential public transport solutions between major centres."

Priority 5

A funding contribution towards delivering an entertainment, convention and exhibition centre in the Maroochydore Development Area.

Cr Thompson said the entertainment, convention and exhibition centre project had "widespread community and industry support".

"It will provide the opportunity to significantly grow the region's tourism offerings and deliver major economic flow-on benefits to other industry sectors.

"This will provide a much-needed venue for local and international acts, exhibitions, conferences and delegations. It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the local economy and create more than 2000 jobs in the construction and operational phases combined. "Other smaller cities in Queensland have benefited from state contributions for similar projects. This is a vital piece of the economic and community infrastructure mix for a region of this size. Successive studies over the last 10 years have demonstrated the need for this project."

Former mayor Alison Grosse said this was a project that should not be put off any longer.

"It's been overlooked to our detriment," she said.

"There have been too many jumping the queue (for funding), this should have been here 30 years ago."

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