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Brisbane tolls to increase in congested transport corridor

In news that may well anger motorists it's been announced Brisbane tolls are set to increase
In news that may well anger motorists it's been announced Brisbane tolls are set to increase

TRANSURBAN are planning to increase tolls on several Brisbane roads to help pay for an upgrade to one of the city's most congested key corridors.

Transurban general manager Wes Ballantine on Tuesday announced the tolling giant was seeking to take over maintenance responsibility for the Inner City Bypass, including the current upgrade.

However, he emphatically ruled out tolling the ICB.

"Today's announcement means Transurban will fund the upgrade works plus the ongoing operation of the maintenance for a long period of time," Mr Ballantine said.

The upgrade includes widening the road to four lanes between the Legacy Way exit at Kelvin Grove and the RNA tunnel at Herston.

The works are proposed to be funded through toll increases for the Legacy Way to the maximum amount allowed, which would be introduced on July 1, 2020.

The maximum current amount is $5.38, which is charged for the Airport Link, but that is likely to increase with inflation by 2020.

Heavy vehicles using the Go Between Bridge and the Clem7 would also pay more from July 1, 2018, to help pay for the upgrade. Class 4 vehicles currently pay $13.07 to use the Clem7, which would increase to about $14.50 before inflation.

Mr Ballantine said he believed the value of improvement was "way beyond" the toll price increases.

"I think rather than the toll price increase it's actually the improvement in the ICB which will make a difference here," Mr Ballantine said.

Mr Ballantine said an "in-principle" deal with Brisbane City Council to deliver the upgrade had been reached but it still needed State Government approval.

He said the deal was consistent with the Logan Enhancement Project Transurban completed with the State Government a few months ago.

While the move would see toll prices increased, Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said it amounted to hip-pocket savings for ratepayers.

Originally slated to cost about $80 million, that figure was revised down to $60 million late last year after a competitive tendering process. Cr Quirk said the Transurban deal would mean council could essentially deliver the project "free of charge".

"That will free up funds for us to look at other infrastructure projects," Cr Quirk said. "It will not be simply absorbed into the $1.3 billion commitment that we've made for the next four year term."

Cr Quirk said Transurban had previously shown to increase efficiency by about 25 per cent where it had taken over maintenance projects. He said it would mean an annual recurrent saving of about $1 million.

Council Opposition Leader Peter Cumming said the tolls would force heavy vehicles back onto "congested suburban streets".

"Anyone who thinks the LNP is the party of small business should remember this announcement next time they go to the ballot box," Cr Cumming said.

"Many heavy-vehicle drivers are owner-operators, small business people and they will be hit hard by this decision to gouge them to pay for road upgrades the council should be responsible for.

"The ICB was paid for by the ratepayers of Brisbane, they own the road and Graham Quirk is robbing Peter to pay Paul with this plan."

Heavy construction on the upgrade is due to be completed by mid-2018.

News Corp Australia

Topics:  brisbane editors picks increase tolls



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