Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cairns needs a second highway access now

Petition for second southern roadway into Cairns

Daniel Strudwick
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
© The Cairns Post

Business leaders in one of the fastest-growing parts of Cairns are lobbying the State Government for a second southern roadway into the city, angry that the proposal has been neglected for so long.

Road rage: Business leaders and residents at Gordonvale and Edmonton yesterday launched a petition calling for a second southern access to the inner-city. They say plans to upgrade the Bruce Highway are not enough.

Chamber of Commerce and the Edmonton District Traders Association yesterday launched a petition in favour of a second access, which was promptly supported by LNP politicians and candidates. The groups said they wanted to gather thousands of signatures to prove the "overwhelming community desire" for another roadway that would link the booming southern corridor to the inner-city.

The Bligh Government’s 20-year strategy for the Bruce Highway includes plans to upgrade a 3.4km stretch of the road south of Cairns to the standard of a six-lane motorway during the next four years. But it doesn’t promise the second roadway that business leaders and the Opposition said was vital.

The LNP’s candidate for Mulgrave, Robyn Quick, threw her support behind the new petition, signalling that a second access would be a key election platform during the campaign.

Chamber president Brett Moller said businesses recognised the benefits of the existing upgrades under construction at White Rock. "However, they are requesting that forward planning take place now to finalise a future route into the city from the Gordonvale area," Mr Moller said.

Edmonton Traders Association secretary Fran Lindsay said a second access would protect lifestyles, improve safety on the busy Bruce Highway and provide alternative routes during a disaster. A 2009 petition by the Southern Corridor Action Group gathered 1500 signatures but had little impact on the State Government’s plans for the Bruce. "This issue has been reported and discussed for 30-40 years … we cannot delay any longer," Mrs Quick said.

Of the options put forward during the past decade, Mrs Quick supports what is known as the far eastern proposal that would see the roadway routed through east Trinity with a bridge across the Inlet. But she said the near eastern option preferred by the area’s business groups should also be investigated.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch also supported the campaign, saying it would result in fewer headaches for residents and business owners whose properties would need to be acquired to make way for construction.

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My opinion

The Bligh Government needs to bite the bullet and accept there is a need for a second limited access into Cairns from the south. What they are proposing is needed anyway. Townsville has one from the north and south and it was gained without any fanfare. What is needed is that both Pitt and Entch, both State and Federal Government sing from the same page. If  politics is not put to one side and planning begins for a second access from Wrights Creek to Ray Jones Drive, the public will do it for them come the next election.

Ross Parisi

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