Bypass pushed back by budget

ANY hope for the construction of the Toowoomba Range Bypass in the immediate future was quashed last night after the much needed project was ignored in the Federal Budget.

The bypass was cast aside for a loosely promised duplication of the Pacific Highway worth $7.1 billion, half of which would have to be payed for by the New South Wales State Government for the project to go ahead.

Federal Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane said the proposed budget was "extremely confused".

"The alleged increase in infrastructure funding is nothing more than smoke and mirrors," he said.

"There's actually been a significant cut in road funding and there won't be enough money to maintain the major roads around our region let alone upgrade them."

The Queensland Government's application for $4 million of funding from the Regional Infrastructure Fund to carry out detailed technical design, cost estimates and traffic modelling of the Range Bypass as part of the Federal budget were also ignored.

Member for Toowoomba North Trevor Watts said the fact that funding for a Toowoomba Bypass case study was not successful goes to show the Federal Government's feeling towards the region.

"It effectively shows that Queensland is closed as far as the Federal Government is concerned," Mr Watts said.

"It is the number one infrastructure project and if they can't come to the party with $4 million for a case study it shows pretty clearly the government's feeling towards the people of Toowoomba."

Toowoomba Regional Council mayor-elect Paul Antonio said the neglect of the major infrastructure project was not surprising.

"The Toowoomba Bypass is critical and we are going to need something very significant to happen for it to get the attention it needs," he said.

"Realistically, I can't see anything doing that until the bypass again becomes a focal point during the upcoming Federal Election."



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