No sign of $50m promised for Port Access Rd

ATTRACTING new business to the Port of Gladstone could be difficult without money secured to finish the access road.

There's no sign of the $48.2 million that was promised to the city last year.

Federal Ministers Warren Truss and Scott Emerson did, however, manage to find an extra $46.17 million for another highway upgrade project in western Queensland.

The Observer understands letters between Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Transport and Main Roads minister Scott Emerson detail how the funding for the Port Access Road be redirected to the Peak Downs Highway because that safety works project ran out of money.

A spokesperson for Mr Truss's office didn't deny the funds had been taken from the Gladstone Port Access Road allocation, instead saying the money had been sourced from "contingencies" within the infrastructure portfolio.

Federal MP Ken O'Dowd, on the other hand, insists the money is still available.

The spending delay is simply because his government is doing an options study to reconsider the long standing plans for the second stage of the project, which would see the current road connected to the west to Blain Drive.

When the funding was announced, Mr O'Dowd said there were questions as to whether the proposed route was the most appropriate.

He said it was a matter of planning, not funding.

"We're of the opinion the whole thing needs to be looked at and Main Roads are looking at that situation now."

That department is still working on a report, commissioned by the Federal Government, looking at traffic flow and projected port growth and demand.

And, they say, the next stage of the works on the Port Access Rd won't be necessary until 2031.

But Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher believes the money is long gone.

"We've been screaming for funding for infrastrucutre," Mr Butcher said.

"So when it disappears I shouldn't be the only one asking questions. The whole community should be asking where that money went and why it was taken away."

The state government has just announced its own $62.3 million spend on the Gladstone Port.

"We should be looking to do stage two of the Port Access Road right now," Mr Butcher said.

"But we can't because the money isn't there anymore."

A spokesperson for the department of Main Roads and Trasnport said the report would be finalised before the end of the year, following meetings with Gladstone Regional Council and Gladstone Ports Corporation.



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