Minister promises upgrade funds
THE politician in charge of fixing one of Australia's most dangerous roads has scoffed at claims that sections of the Cooroy to Curra upgrade of the Bruce Highway will be delayed by 20 years.
Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese inspected the site of the $2.8 billion upgrade last week as work progressed on the new Traveston interchange, and shovelled scorn on claims by Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss that the Labor Government was set to delay works.
"Today's visit shows yet again that Mr Albanese is all talk and no action. He knows how treacherous the Cooroy to Curra section of the highway is," Mr Truss said. "Mr Albanese even stripped more than $100 million from the Section B Sankeys Rd to Traveston Rd project in the last Federal Budget and put it towards other projects.
"There are now rumours that the Gillard Labor Government could push back Sections C and D of the Cooroy to Curra project for another 20 years."
Mr Albanese said commitments to sections A, C and D would come with future budget announcements.
"We expect it will run on time and be open in 2012," he said.
He said Mr Truss had done nothing about the problem in the 12 years he was Member and transport minister.
"We make announcements in budgets, not on the run, and we'll make the announcements in our budgets as part of the budget process," he said.
Mr Truss said the draft plan for section A to make the highway, which has claimed more than 50 lives since 2000 from Cooroy to Sankeys Rd, into four lanes was supposed to be released for public comment last year.
"Here we are in September, more than nine months later, and Mr Albanese has again failed to release it," Mr Truss said.
"Today we had a visit from the Federal Minister, more than a year since he received the plans, but still no announcement from him as to when the planning study will be released for public consultation."
Mr Albanese said after "years of talk and inaction by our predecessors, the delivery of this long-awaited upgrade has now entered the home straight and will be completed next year".
"The Government recognises the road's importance to communities living along the Queensland coast and compared to the record of the former Howard Government, we're investing twice as much in half the time.
"The Cooroy to Curra section carries 16,000 vehicles per day and with trucks being 20% of that traffic, the upgrade will make it a much safer place for all road-users."