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EXPLAINED: How the Rocky Ring Road will grow CQ

RING ROAD: The proposed route for a western bypass at Rockhampton. INSET: New equipment makes loading and unloading freight easier at Rockhampton Airport, seeing it completed in less time than it takes to refuel a plane.
RING ROAD: The proposed route for a western bypass at Rockhampton. INSET: New equipment makes loading and unloading freight easier at Rockhampton Airport, seeing it completed in less time than it takes to refuel a plane.

THE Rockhampton Ring Road could be the glue that holds some of the region's biggest projects together.

Councillor Neil Fisher, chair of the airport, water and waste committee, said the trio of projects could cement Rockhampton as a freight and transport hub for Queensland if they were to go ahead.

He said the western bypass would work with the development of defence storage capabilities in Central Queensland, Rookwood Weir's increased support for agriculture, and an eventual link from Rockhampton Airport to the Gracemere Industrial Area.

Cr Fisher believes the Ring Road would only work to strengthen the business cases of each project.

The western bypass, known as the Rockhampton Ring Road, was identified for planning and corridor preservation in the next five to 10 years in the Queensland Government Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy July 2011.

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow has backed the proposal, saying it will also boost jobs in the region.

The 22km project would run from the Yeppen Roundabout along the western side of the airport to a third bridge crossing before connecting with the Bruce Hwy at Parkhurst.

See what heavy vehicles could bypass if the Ring Road went ahead:

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow has backed the proposal, saying it will also boost jobs.

The project has an estimated price tag of over $1 billion.

But Cr Fisher said the benefits to the region's economy would be broad, allowing the airport to grow into a freight hub.

He said the bypass would allow the airport to build a more substantial case for not only exporting freight by air, but developing a transport hub in connection with the Gracemere Industrial Area.

The road would allow trucks and transport vehicles to avoid the city heart, easing traffic congestion.

New large capacity handling equipment at the airport allows planes to be unloaded and re-loaded with goods in less time than it takes to refuel.

Freight being unloaded at Rockhampton Airport. New equipment makes this process faster than re-fueling.
Freight being unloaded at Rockhampton Airport. New equipment makes this process faster than re-fueling. Contributed

Cr Fisher said this could see Rockhampton become a destination for large export carriers en route to international destinations.

But it's not just produce which could travel through the airport.

Cr Fisher also sees potential for the ring road to greatly benefit defence forces training Shoalwater Bay, allowing them to move bulky equipment around the outskirts of the city.

The airport already has the capacity to host some of the world's biggest aircraft, including the largest of the US fleet and second-largest of the Russian fleet.

Cr Fisher said with the Ring Road these cargo planes could deliver equipment weighing 50 tonnes or more and deliver it to mining sites with only one set of traffic lights in between.

The city hosts the giant Antonov aircraft about six times a year, but Cr Fisher said this had the potential to double with the bypass.

"(The Ring Road) gives us the chance to become a freight hub for heavy equipment,” he said.

Increased activity at and around the airport would also benefit the city, taking returns from relevant fees and charges to a "whole new level”.

The project has been discussed in the region for years, but Cr Fisher said it was "starting to become so much more credible”.

"The first stage of the ring road, that airport link, has got enormous economic benefit to the airport and the region as well as seeing traffic congestion in Rockhampton reduced,” he said

Topics:  neil fisher ring road rockhampton airport rockhampton ring road western bypass



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