Funding packages worth $111.66m in the recent federal budget have finally paved the way for type 2 road trains to be able to travel into Emerald from the west, according to Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Sean Dillon.
Among the myriad of announcements were three added to the Mount Isa to Rockhampton corridor under the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, to progressively strengthen and widen the Capricorn Highway between Alpha and Emerald.
"These three packages will deliver corridor-level benefits by improving the route's useability and safety for heavy vehicles, thereby supporting local industry and regional economic growth," the departmental material reads.
Cr Dillon said that money, combined with $27.91m of state government funding, was a massive boost for the central west.
"I have strongly and consistently lobbied for this road to be upgraded, not only to improve road safety but for the eventual extension of the type 2 road train network," he said.
"This step is, in my opinion, the most strategic and permanent solution for not only residents here in the central west but indeed those who live away and rely on our production streams.
"Given the demise of rail as a viable option for the west, road freight is our only realistic option, hence the massive strategic importance of this announcement."
Cr Dillon also said the imminent seal of roads such as the Torrens Creek-Aramac link, and the recently announced Outback Way, would increase the volume of heavy vehicle traffic on the Capricorn Highway.
As well as being a significant part of Queensland's freight network, the Capricorn Highway facilitates resource, agricultural, pastoral, tourism and community links, some of it currently on a narrow single seal highway.
The 400 jobs the funding packages will support over four years was also good news for Cr Dillon, thanks to the council's awareness of federal and state government calls to gear up and be ready to deliver projects of significant scale, quickly.
"Our road crews have delivered on an unprecedented level of capital upgrades, on time, ranging from the widening of the Barcaldine-Aramac Road, progressively sealing the Clermont-Alpha Road and the recently commenced state-funded improvement program to the Capricorn Highway," he said.
"Never before have our crews been asked to undertake this level of construction, but with additional equipment and a dedicated partnership with our contractors to undertake elements of our own road network maintenance, they have succeeded, not just once but continually for the last two financial years."
The three funding packages are due to be rolled out from early 2023, with the first, valued at $19.57m, scheduled for completion by early 2024.
The next, worth $45m, is expected to be finished by early 2025, and the final package, some $75m worth and said to be delivering 224 jobs, has an early 2026 delivery date.
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