ROAD PROPOSAL: The purple line represents the council’s best option, which runs off Turkey Beach Road and then joins up with Fingerboard Road and on to Agnes Water.
ROAD PROPOSAL: The purple line represents the council’s best option, which runs off Turkey Beach Road and then joins up with Fingerboard Road and on to Agnes Water. CONTRIBUTED

Wait is at least 10 years for shorter route to Agnes

THE Gladstone Regional Council has put a key piece of infrastructure linking Gladstone and Agnes Water on the backburner, saying that it has no concrete plans for it within the next decade.

Prior to 2011, the council investigated the possibility of building a road from Agnes Water to Turkey Beach, increasing access to Gladstone from Agnes Water by cutting an estimated 14.53km from the journey.

The road would have cost $97.1 million dollars and crossed into state parks, triggering a logistical nightmare which would have only pushed the price higher.

In January of 2011 the council effectively put the plan in care and maintenance mode while it investigated potential routes.

While talks with state government and other stakeholders have continued, three years later the road looks no closer to getting off the ground.

Mayor Gail Sellers said the project was not currently in council's 10-year financial plan.

"It will not happen in the next 10 years," Cr Sellers said.

"I think at the end of it you only end up saving 12 minutes, so that doesn't justify the expense to council."

The plan for the infrastructure corridor which would have included other infrastructure such as water, communications, and gas and would have to put aside a route 40m wide.

No doubt this would be a vital link for the long-term future of Agnes Water.

The council is now investigating the possibility of reserving a road corridor should the project become more viable in the future.

However, while The Discovery Coast Tourism and Commerce body said it was disappointing the road had stalled, it had sympathy with the council.

"No doubt this would be a vital link for the long-term future of Agnes Water," government liaison committee member Mark Hulst said.

The community of Agnes Water suffers through regular flooding events and is cut off from surrounding areas.

"Yes, it is frustrating that the project has stalled, but we do appreciate the council has been working hard at this," Mr Hulst said.

Northern corridor costs

  • Eurimbula: $110.3 million
  • Pine Creek: $102.6 million
  • Central Creek (preferred option): $97.1 million
PRIORITIES: 1770 LARC! owner Neil Mergard says a switch of priorities is needed.
PRIORITIES: 1770 LARC! owner Neil Mergard says a switch of priorities is needed.

Let's flood proof the existing roads first

LARC 1770 tour owner Neil Mergard thinks talk of the road between Gladstone and Agnes Water is premature, given the issues with Fingerboard Rd.

"The concept of having a new road is all well and good, but it would be better if governments were more focused on fixing issues with Fingerboard Rd," Mr Mergard said.

"Funds should be re-allocated to funding existing access, and that's our priority."

Fingerboard Rd near Miriam Vale is key to access to Agnes Water, and is also prone to flooding.

Residents in Agnes Water have been calling for two key areas along the road, Alligator and Needle Flats, to be raised by less than a metre to flood-proof the road.

"Let's walk before we start running with this other road," he said.

He said while it was admirable the Gladstone Regional Council was continuing to look into the Gladstone-Agnes Water road, more promotion of tourism on the Discovery Coast would be better for operators.

"The prospect of more visitors coming to the area as a result of the new road has some credibility, but more importantly promotion of the town and current access improvement would be beneficial," Mr Mergard said.

"I know at the moment there's a lot of industry going on in Gladstone, but that's eventually going to go away, so you need to keep tourism strong so we're not dropped into a black hole when it all ends."

He did say the new road would bring more long-term residents to the area, as it would make it easier for people to commute from Agnes Water to Gladstone.



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