Mayor to put case for millions

PREMIER Anna Bligh has invited Mayor Brad Carter to Brisbane next week so he can make the case for hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding.

The Mayor and Rockhampton Regional Council chief executive Alastair Dawson will meet the Premier on Friday with a short but costly shopping list.

The council is seeking approval for three major infrastructure projects - a bypass and third bridge over the Fitzroy River; additional water storages on the river; and road access across the rail line that separates the Capricorn Highway from land identified for industrial development between Gracemere and Stanwell.

“These are the three key projects that have been identified as our top priorities for our continued economic growth,” Cr Carter said.

He believes the need for a third bridge, which will need federal finance, will intensify in the next few years as increased traffic within and through the city is expected to exceed the capacity of the existing bridges by 2016.

“There's a $5 million study under way into the route of a bypass and bridge and so it is impossible to say at this stage how much the eventual project might cost.

“But we would like to see some commitment in the next state budget to our water infrastructure and the overpass over the rail line.”

He said early cost estimates for potential weirs were in the region of $170 million while building a proposed water pipeline to Gladstone would cost $120 million.

“Crossing the rail track would be about $50 million,” he said.

“I hope the Premier will endorse our priorities, although we recognise the financial climate is difficult.”

Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten, who was instrumental in setting up next week's meeting, said the council had prepared a very professional document that made a case for support.

“The Premier is acutely aware of the issues here in Rockhampton and I will be pushing like hell to make sure the initiatives are at the top of the Government's list of priorities,” he said.

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