Pollies butt heads over Mooloolah River Interchange project
MEMBER for Buderim Steve Dickson has accused Minister for Main Roads Mark Bailey of allowing political bias to cloud his judgement on the progression of the Mooloolah River Interchange project.
Mr Dickson took exception to Mr Bailey's claims at a community forum in Landsborough last week that the project had never been fully-planned for or costed by the former LNP government and this study was now being undertaken.
But Mr Dickson said planning for the project was carried out by the former Newman Government and he was involved with the resumption of $100 million worth of properties in Hideaway Waters to clear the way for construction of the road.
The project has been calculated to cost around $430 million and would see the Mooloolah River interchange upgraded along with a new two-lane connection from Kawana Way at Parrearra to the new Kawana Arterial Rd, and duplication of the Sunshine Motorway between Kawana Way and Karawatha Dr at Mountain Creek.
This is was the latest incarnation of the project, which was first mooted by a Labor government around 2002 and was revisited with a new corridor presented by former Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson on August 19, 2014.
At the time, Mr Emerson said consultation on planning and design should be finalised by early 2015.
Mr Dickson said delays in progressing the project since Labor once again took office meant the vital road connections would not be completed for the Sunshine Coast University Hospital opening in April 2017.
"There will be a 47% increase in traffic the day that hospital opens and we will have the biggest car park in south-east Queensland," he said.
"The kicker is, they have to undertake reloading, which will cost $150 million, to lay compacted dirt that has to sit for two years before it can have bitumen laid over the top, so whenever (Mr Bailey) pulls the trigger to start, we will still have to wait two years for it to be built."
When Mr Dickson submitted questions on notice on March 27, 2015 and June 17, 2016, premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the planning for the MRI was finalised and had been referred to Building Queensland, which coordinates projects over $50 million, for funding consideration.
Information on the Building Queensland website published on June 16 this year confirms the estimated cost and listed stage of development as "preliminary evaluation complete".
Do you want to see the Mooloolah River Interchange go ahead?
This poll ended on 27 September 2016.
As long as the State Government can afford it.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The website states the next step is to complete a business case, which Mr Bailey said would need to be finalised before funding could be allocated.
"Mr Dickson and the Sunshine Coast LNP MPs must be highly embarrassed that they had three years and a record majority to get things done on the Sunshine Coast and yet this project was never funded under their government, there is not a single government document that they can point to that show it was funded," Mr Bailey said.
"What they did do, was promised it after three years of doing nothing and not completing the planning for it, in the election and it was based on asset sales, which were rejected by the Queensland people and consequently the only means by which they promised it collapsed.
"We have inherited that situation and we are now finalising the planning for it and in the meantime we are looking at a range of options to transport issues around the health precinct."
Among them is the $22 million upgrade to the Kawana Way roundabout, which would double traffic capacity, and implementing emergency vehicle priority technology, which gives ambulances transporting priority patients green lights at intersections all the way to the hospital.
Mr Dickson urged Mr Bailey to "step up and make a commitment" to the project, which would save lives by allowing faster access to the Kawana health precinct from the Bruce Highway.
"They can spear me in the chest and throw as much blame on me as they like, but none of it really matters when lives are at risk," he said.
"If this road is not built, people will die."
Mr Bailey said he had "no doubt" of the importance of the MRI.
"We are working to do this as quickly as we can. It is in the advanced stages and we know it's a high priority and we are working hard at it," he said.