Billions to be poured into major projects on Coast


THOUSANDS of jobs will be created as work begins on billions of dollars of major Gold Coast infrastructure projects.

Early works on the $1 billion M1 upgrade between Varsity Lakes and Tugun and the light rail extension to Burleigh Heads have begun, while a business case is being developed for the multibillion-dollar Coomera Connector project in the city's north.

The light rail extension.
The light rail extension.

However, peak industry bodies are calling for funding to be ramped up on tourism and transport infrastructure projects to help the Gold Coast beat the COVID-19 downturn.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the major projects would play a key role in the Gold Coast's economic recovery.

"We have started the business case for the Coomera Connector, with a focus on building stage one between Nerang and Coomera, and also have another major upgrade on the M1 at Exit 41 in Yatala ready to come online towards the end of the year," he said.

"While the focus is on managing the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's even more critical for our infrastructure investment to keep rolling on and supporting new jobs.

The route of the Coomera Connector.
The route of the Coomera Connector.

"The construction industry will play an essential role in our recovery so we can't lose momentum on major projects like the M1 upgrades and light rail which between them will support about 1600 jobs.

"There's a solid pipeline of projects in the mix to support new Gold Coast jobs now and offer more opportunities into the future too."

RACQ yesterday sent a letter to Mayor Tom Tate containing a laundry list of major projects ripe for fast-tracking ahead of council's budget deliberations beginning next month.

The projects listed as essential for funding include a business case for the Burleigh to border light rail stage 3B link as well as the proposed east-west electric bus connections

"It is very important that we look at long-term infrastructure benefits from additional, fast-track spending by the Gold Coast City Council," RACQ spokesman Paul Turner said.

RACQ wants more money to go towards light rail Stage 3B.
RACQ wants more money to go towards light rail Stage 3B.

"Not only will these projects create sustainable jobs, they will also leave a legacy which will benefit generations to come."

Mr Turner said a letter had also been sent to the State Government pushing for work on the Coomera Connector to be fast-tracked.

Cr Tate has flagged setting aside funding for a light rail business case in June's council budget as part of a widescale economic recovery package which will be pitched to his fellow city leaders.

The centrepiece of his proposal is fast-tracking and increasing the size and scope of the third stage of the Home of the Arts, to create a public plaza and revamp the existing arts centre.

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said the business community was "wildly supportive" of moves to fund more public infrastructure but warned there needed to be increased focus on economic development.

"Anything which can get people back to the Gold Coast is good because it is going to be a rocky road ahead and there will very likely be instance where it will be a few steps forward before setbacks," he said.

"Funding for road infrastructure and the light rail would be great but we also need funding for the expansion of the Gold Coast convention centre because once this is over it will allow us attract bigger numbers of people.

"We must not lose sight of the fact that while this virus has been terrible, this city is knocking on the door of population of 1 million people and we need to see consideration of complementing our growth with employment opportunities."

Originally published as Billions to be poured into major projects on Coast

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