$40m funding for road train access upgrade for Gladstone
THE trucks that keep Australia moving are locked out of the second largest commodity port in Queensland, but that's about to change.
To bring road trains into Gladstone Port from out west five timber bridges first need to be replaced between Gladstone and Biloela.
Today the State Government has announced it's willing to stump up the $40 million to get the job done as part of the new $500 million infrastructure plan.
It means those hauling grain, for example, into the port will no longer have to unhook a trailer in Gracemere, drive into Gladstone to unload, return to Gracemere, pick up the trailer and drive back to Gladstone to unload before reassembling their trucks and heading off.
For cattle farmer Will Wilson having road train access into the port is essential for growing his business.
With about 14,500 cattle on his property, Calliope Station, Mr Wilson is one of the biggest producers in Central Queensland.
He and fellow cattle producer Leo Neill-Ballantine are among a group trying to establish a new industry for the port - box chilled beef.
But without a secure supply route and direct access to the port attracting investors has been hard.
Now there will be higher profit margins for that business model because less money will be spent on fuel and less time wasted driving back and forth.
That's what investors want to hear.
Read more: .
"If the infrastructure is there, that's one more reason to invest in this industry," Mr Wilson said.
"This is the key to creating more opportunities for agriculture here in Gladstone."
For years those in agriculture have been calling on the State Government to replace the bridges and it was one of the first issues flagged with Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher following the election.
This week Mr Butcher included the request for all the timber bridges to be replaced with concrete bridges in the State Government's Infrastructure Plan - a wish list for MPs.
And Mr Butcher's wish has come true.
"This government understands how important it is for the region to have these bridges replaced, not just repaired, and I couldn't be happier with today's announcement," Mr Butcher said.
"Having increased ease of access to the port will be a huge benefit to the agricultural industry, the lifeblood of the Gladstone region."
Now it's up to the Federal Government to keep their word and provide the $48.2 million to upgrade the Port Access Rd which The Observer understands was diverted to a different project.
Federal MP Ken O'Dowd, on the other hand, insists the money would be available once a study considering whether the planned route for the road was the most suitable.
That study was finished last year; neither the state or federal governments will release the results and there's still no sign of the funding.
Projects funded for upgrades:
- Ipswich Motorway Upgrade, Stage 1 Darra to Rocklea
- Pacific Motorway-Gateway Motorway Merge Upgrade (southbound lanes)
- North Coast Line Capacity Improvement Project
- Dawson Highway (Gladstone - Biloela) timber bridge replacement package
- Rockhampton Road Train Access, Stage 1
- Kawana and Nicklin Way - Sunshine Coast University Hospital intersection upgrades package
- Riverway Drive duplication, Townsville (Gollogly Lane - Allambie Lane)
Please note: This story has been changed since it was originally published. It was originally published the funding announcement was for $30m, which was incorrect. The funding is worth $40m. We apologise for the error.