State ignores Gairloch in cash splash

Mar 8, 2021

State ignores Gairloch in cash splash

Mar 8, 2021

$48 MILLION in funding for planning of highway upgrades between Ingham and Cardwell will not look at upgrading the Gairloch Washaway but instead focus on a dreaded bypass, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.  

Mr Dametto said he felt he needed to clarify Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey’s recent comments in which he alluded to the funding but did not state specifically what it was for. 

“Normally, most people would welcome that sort of investment in planning for future upgrades to the Bruce Highway, but not if it’s at the expense of our town’s economy,” he said. 

“The bypass would be devastating for Ingham’s business community and the wider Herbert River District given so many rely on that drive-through traffic to survive.” 

The Federal Government is contributing $38.4 million for planning and corridor preservation for the “Ingham to Cardwell Range Deviation”, with the State making up the rest of the estimated $48 million project cost. 

The project will look at future construction of a deviation on higher ground to the west of the existing Bruce Highway to improve flood immunity along that section of highway.  

However, Mr Dametto said if TMR were intent on pressing ahead with the bypass, construction was still as far as 10 years away meaning Gairloch Washaway “would be left to ruin” unless $40 million in Federal funding already committed was spent to improve it.  

“That money to improve the washaway has been sitting there for more than 10 years but unfortunately, there’s no appetite from the State to spend it,” Mr Dametto said. 

“TMR think the bypass is the silver bullet solution but it will come at a great cost to our district. We need to improve flood immunity at Gairloch now so we don’t have traffic, including vital freight trucks, cut off every time there’s enough rain to cause minor flooding in the Lower Herbert. No-one expects this stretch of road to be flood-proofed, but the road can be lifted and some adequate culverts installed to improve drainage.  

“The difference could mean the highway is only cut for a few hours instead of a few days.” 

Mr Dametto called on Mr Bailey to “reconsider his approach” to the washaway. 

“If the Gairloch Washaway isn’t upgraded before the bypass is built, this project will no longer qualify for Federal funding as it will cease to make up part of the National Highway,” he said. 

“The money for the washaway is there. Let’s make it happen.”