$20 million bridge promise a win for the region: Mayor
THE Coalition Government has announced it will fund a replacement for the ailing John Peterson Bridge over the Boyne River near Mundubbera if it is returned to government on May 18.
Speaking in Gladstone today with Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the $20 million announcement in the presence of North Burnett Regional Council Mayor Rachel Chambers, Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation CEO Kristy Frahm and Mundubbera to Jandowae Roads Working Group chairwoman Georgie Somerset.
Announcing the news on Facebook, Cr Chambers said the funding was a "win for not only the North Burnett, but also for South Burnett, Toowoomba (with Wellcamp airport) and Bundaberg (with its new port)”.
"The advocacy around this project has been fierce,” she said.
Cr Chambers said the bridge was a "critical piece of infrastructure council has been advocating for, for many, many years”.
Mrs Somerset said the bridge forms an important transport link.
"Queensland's future economic growth will be built on the ability to effectively move freight and human resources within the resources, agriculture, construction and tourism sectors,” Mrs Somerset said.
"Enabling infrastructure on strategic routes such as the John Peterson Bridge in the Inland Burnett is critical to ensuring an efficient freight system, providing the backbone for economic growth and connecting our regional communities.”
Mr O'Dowd said the promise was evidence of the Coalition's support for regional infrastructure.
"John Peterson Bridge is flood-prone, which means a vital freight route along Mundubbera-Durong Road is cut during heavy weather, limiting freight movements and passenger vehicles,” he said.
"This project will involve construction of a new bridge, as well as realigning its approaches to eliminate dangerous S-bends.
"This is a key route connecting the Western Downs with Rockhampton and is used by thousands of heavy vehicles carting cattle, timber and grain on a weekly basis.
"We all know that if a bridge is out of action it could mean a diversion of hundreds of kilometres to find a safe alternate route.”
Speaking with the Times, Cr Chambers said Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers is "very well aware” of how important the bridge is to the region.
She said she expects the bridge funding to become a bipartisan position between the two major parties.
"As a local government mayor, you play both sides in an election campaign to make sure the region is a winner,” Cr Chambers said.
Mr Beers, however, was unimpressed by the announcement.
"After six years of inaction, it's disappointing that we're only now seeing a slight trickle of funding for local infrastructure,” Mr Beers said.
"We know that there isn't a single dollar of new funding for Queensland infrastructure in the Federal Budget over the next two years, so at best we won't see any work done on this bridge for several years.”