Work on Toowoomba Bypass to start early next year
UPDATE: Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has announced that works on the Toowoomba Bypass will finally start in early 2015.
Mr Truss was in Toowoomba today to make the announcement.
He called on the private sector to register interest in building the second range crossing project.
He was joined by Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and Federal Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane to call for the registration of interest.
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"The registration of interest is supported by financial commitments to the project by the Australian and Queensland Governments," Mr Truss said.
"It sets out the broad scope of works and objectives and invites the private sector to advise of potential interest in being involved.
"The registration process will move to a formal expression of interest stage over the next couple of months.
"A successful contractor will be named later this year, with construction expected to begin by mid-2015.
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"The successful proponent will be responsible for the design, construction, financing of the new bypass, as well as for the operations and maintenance, including the collection of toll money."
Queensland's peak motoring body has praised the $1.7 billion funding announcement for the Toowoomba Bypass, calling it a project two decades in the making.
RACQ executive general manager advocacy Paul Turner said the often promised, but never delivered, project would foster economic growth, improve safety and reduce congestion.
"The Toowoomba Bypass has always been the bridesmaid and never the bride when it comes to funding," Mr Turner said.
"So it's especially pleasing that the Federal and State Governments are not only giving it the attention it deserves, they've exceeded their election promises."
Mr Turner stressed the importance of the traditional 80/20 funding split between federal and state governments, with recent disagreements threatening the viability of major infrastructure projects.
"This project quite simply would not be possible without the Federal Government committing the lion's share of funding," he said.
"The Warrego is a key route for freight, tourism and commuter traffic and the benefits of a second range crossing will spread to all Queenslanders."
Mr Turner said a toll for heavy vehicles to pay for ongoing maintenance was acceptable as they were the main beneficiaries of the 45 minute time saving from the bypass.
EARLIER: The Toowoomba Range bypass is set to become a reality with the Federal Government to announce a $1.3672 billion commitment towards the project.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss will make the announcement today in Toowoomba.
Joining him will be Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, Treasurer Tim Nicholls, Transport Minister Scott Emerson, Toowoomba MPs John McVeigh and Trevor Watts and Lockyer Valley MP Ian Rickuss.
The Federal Government has scrapped the proposed public-private partnership outlined in the 2012 business case.
It will instead commit a full 80 per cent stake towards the project to provide a guarantee to international construction companies interested in the project.
The Federal Government came under fire on the eve of the election last year after it was revealed it had budgeted for only $130 million of its $700 million election commitment to be spent within its first term.
As a result, Federal Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane suffered one of the worst swings recorded in the country when votes were counted the following day.
The State Government upped the ante late last year after a leaked email to APN Newsdesk revealed both levels of government were at loggerheads over the project's funding model.
In the same email to the most senior people in government, Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls committed a full 20 per cent stake, or $342 million, to ensure the bypass became a reality.
It was the largest funding commitment made by any Queensland Government, irrespective of political persuasion.
A senior government source revealed exclusively to APN Newsdesk the project would go ahead now that a funding agreement had been reached between the Federal and State governments.
"There has been a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure this project becomes a reality once and for all," he said.
"Now the funding arrangements have been organised, the registration-of-interest documents will be issued within the next month or so, followed by the expression-of-interest documents.
"People can expect to see construction work commence early next year."
The source confirmed funding would be made available in both the Federal and State budgets when they were delivered later this year.
"This project is more than just about creating jobs," he said.
"The benefits will be felt on a national scale.
"We are extremely pleased this essential and critical piece of infrastructure for Queensland is finally being delivered."
January 25, 2013
Ian Macfarlane says he will resign if $700 million in Federal funding was not made available in his first term of government.
February 8, 2013
Mayor Paul Antonio hosts "Seal the Deal" bypass forum in Toowoomba. Nationals leader Warren Truss says costs increase by $100 million each year construction is deferred.
July 20, 2013
Ian Macfarlane tells The Chronicle the bypass would be completed by 2017 - "An elected Coalition government will build this road and will have it completed by 2017".
August 23, 2013
State Government makes first commitment of $140 million towards bypass - one-fifth of the total government pledge.
August 27, 2013
French-based firm Bouygues Construction revealed as one of the international companies "eyeing off" the bypass as a private investment opportunity.
September 5, 2013
Coalition budget costings reveal only $130 million of a total $700 million funding promise would be delivered within the first term of government.
September 6, 2013
Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones calls for Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane to resign over $130 million commitment to bypass in first term of government.
November 13, 2013
Bypass is omitted from Federal Government's list of priority road projects in opening address to parliament.
November 29, 2013
Ian Macfarlane hints the project would be ready to go to tender within weeks at a Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and Industry breakfast.
December 11, 2013
Leaked email reveals State Government has increased commitment to $342 million - one-fifth of total $1.709 billion cost. Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls says Federal Government would have to fund entire $1.367 shortfall, not private investors.