‘Inferior’ $2.4b road plan ‘must be dumped’

GOLD Coast business leaders have urged the LNP to abandon its "second M1" and back Labor's Coomera Connector, saying the LNP's shorter and cheaper model makes "no sense".

In a shock intervention into the election campaign, the business community and Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate have joined forces to call for both parties to take a unity platform on the major arterial road to the October 31 election.

Labor's six-lane, $1.5 billion stage one of the Coomera Connector will run 16.6km between Carrara and the Coomera marine precinct.

Artist impression - Coomera Connector heading into Helensvale.
Artist impression - Coomera Connector heading into Helensvale.

The first stage of the LNP's "second M1" would cost $550 million but would be just four lanes and only run between the Gold Coast Highway at Helensvale and Coomera.

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said proposing a shorter and narrower arterial made "no sense" and urged both parties to support the full six-lane proposal.

"There is no logic in building a shorter one at a time when the Federal Government are clear we need to use or lose that federal funding.

"Building a full six-lane road as proposed makes sense rather than four lanes because if we are serious about getting people around the Gold Coast, we need to future-proof now.

"It makes absolutely no sense from a private commerce perspective to go shorter and narrower when the money is cheap and the interest is apparent."

FIRST LOOK AT $2.4 BILLION ROAD'S TRANSFORMATION

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall. Picture: Richard Gosling

There are fears a commitment to a shorter, narrower model would leave the Gold Coast in a similar position to the 1990s when the proposed eight-lane M1 was abandoned in favour of a four to six-lane version which has required billions of dollars in upgrades in the past 20 years to keep up with population growth.

Gold Coast North Chamber of Commerce president Martin Brady said a "one and done" six-lane road made sense.

"We need to get it done and get it done properly rather than go piecemeal and keep having to come back to it," he said.

"After COVID it is logical that the Gold Coast will grow faster and with the population going berserk, we need to build it in full."

The Morrison Government set aside $750 million for the project in the Federal Budget, matching funds put forward by the State Government in September.

Both Labor and the LNP have committed to beginning construction next year.

The project, once complete, will eventually stretch 45km from Nerang to Logan.

It is expected to take up to 60,000 vehicles off the M1 and has been fully gazetted by the State Government.

An LNP spokesman said it intended to consult with Gold Coast residents about the final design of the project.

"The State LNP will match the Federal Government's $750 million commitment and we will get shovels in the ground on the project next year," he said.

"The LNP will consult with local residents and businesses on the final design of the Second M1 to get value for money and bust congestion on the northern Gold Coast."

Coomer MP Michael Crandon argued earlier this month that the LNP's second M1 was superior and could be built sooner.

"The LNP would build two lanes each way to build our stage one which would cost only $550 million," he said.

Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Incumbent Transport Minister Mark Bailey dismissed the LNP's proposal as an "inferior product".

"While we are investing in a full stage one all the way from Carrara to Coomera, the LNP's is only half the size and what has become clear is that it is an inferior option because of internal party divisions," he said.

Artist impression of the Coomera Connector
Artist impression of the Coomera Connector

"At this rate we'd be building it for the next 30 years whereas we believe it should be done once and properly."

The road, formerly known as the intra-regional transport corridor (IRTC), has long been part of the State Government's future plans to reduce congestion but was dumped by the former Newman government in 2013, when then-Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney wrote to the Gold Coast City Council demanding it be removed from future plans as a condition of the City Plan being removed.

This decision was reversed in 2015.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. Picture: Jerad Williams
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. Picture: Jerad Williams

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, himself a life-member of the LNP, urged both sides of politics to be united on the issue.

"It would be wonderful if both sides of Queensland politics would join as one and acknowledge that we cannot drag our feet," he said.

"We will be running with both feet to fast-track the Coomera Connector, light rail stage 4 and the fast rail - This is the key message out of the budget this past week and the sooner we all join together for the betterment of the next generation the better.

"The opportunity here is not to promise and delay, the opportunity now exists to co-fund with the Federal Government and fast-track these projects."

 

 

 

Originally published as 'Inferior' $2.4b road plan 'must be dumped'

Gold Coast North Chamber of Commerce President Martin Brady. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Gold Coast North Chamber of Commerce President Martin Brady. Picture: Glenn Hampson


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