Qld, Light rail in the fast lane
Qld, Light rail in the fast lane
Geoff Chambers
December 20th, 2008
THE initial stage of the $1.67 billion rapid transit project will be fast-tracked by the Federal Government after State Treasury figures revealed the system would return a profit.
Stage one of the project is expected to cost $850 million and the bill will be jointly paid by the Federal and Queensland governments, the Gold Coast City Council and big business.
The light-rail system is the city's only project on the Infrastructure Australia priority list, which was released yesterday.
The priority document contains only a preliminary shortlist but sources have told The Bulletin the rapid transit system would be backed by the Rudd Government and fast-tracked to handle the city's worsening traffic problems.
Mayor Ron Clarke welcomed the support and said the city council's $130 million contribution had been factored into the budget.
More money will be made available by the council if the project is fast-tracked.
The Bligh Government has put aside only $50 million for stage one of the system, which was originally expected to run from Griffith University to Broadbeach.
Cr Clarke said the Federal Government's involvement could now leave open the potential to extend the track to Helensvale and Burleigh.
"I think it is an important recognition that the city needs better transport and we need all of the financial support we can get," said Cr Clarke.
"I have my fingers crossed that this means we can extend the first stage hopefully to Burleigh and to Helensvale."
TransLink has already instigated property resumptions along the route and the Bligh Government is expected to unveil a public-private partnership with a major transport company early next year.
City planning committee chairman Cr Ted Shepherd, who has been pushing for a light-rail system since he joined the council in 2000, said he would push for the extension of the system.
"This was the project most likely to catch the eye of the Federal Government and I believe that the Treasury analysis has shown that the project would be profitable, which makes it more attractive to private companies who would come on board as part of a PPP (pulic-private partnership)," said Cr Shepherd.
"With this backing, I believe that we must push ahead with the project and make sure that we service as much of the city as possible in stage one."
Fadden MP Stuart Robert said the rapid transit system must extend to Helensvale.
"They have to take this system to Helensvale, which is part of a major growth corridor," said Mr Robert.
Construction of the rapid transit system is expected to begin late next year.
Premier Anna Bligh told The Bulletin in August that more than 50 companies had already expressed in interest in the rapid transit system.
A final decision on a partnership deal is expected to be made by March next year
Start taking any photos of 'how it used to be" soon.

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