A $700 million cost blowout has halted a key Central Queensland road infrastructure project from going ahead this year.
Both the State and Federal Government confirmed tender quotes for the Rockhampton Ring Road project were $700 million higher than the original $1.065 billion budgeted for the project.
The 14.7km ring road was set to link the Bruce Highway through Rockhampton extending from the Capricorn Highway (Nelson Street), to the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road/Bruce Highway intersection and include a new crossing of the Fitzroy River at Pink Lily.
The project was due to begin construction in 2022, with completion expected in 2026.
Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King confirmed the project cannot be delivered in the current time frame.
"The Queensland Government put the project out to tender and the lowest cost that came back was $700 million above the $1 billion funding to be provided by the Australian and Queensland Governments," Ms King said.
"In this economic climate with rising inflation and constraints on the number of construction workers and the supply of materials, both the Australian and Queensland Governments agree it is not possible to build the Ring Road in the proposed time frame.
"The funding is not being delayed, it is moving to when the project can really be delivered."
Originally, the Federal Government committed $800 million to the project, with the State contributing $200 million.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey blamed the delay on "soaring LNP induced inflation" that the Federal Labor Government inherited.
"The local legacy of the defeated Morrison LNP Government is the worst inflation in a generation caused by their economic mismanagement," Mr Bailey said.
"Due to the soaring LNP induced inflation, early market testing has shown the Rockhampton Ring Road project has been priced by the private sector at nearly double its estimated cost."
With media reports suggesting the project might be reprofiled by the Commonwealth Government when they hand down their new budget, Mr Bailey said the future of the project would be decided then.
"We will find out on budget night whether the project continues," he said.
Rockhampton local MP Barry O'Rourke said the project delay was "disappointing", and is in talks with both levels of governments for whether the project goes ahead or not.
"It is an important project for Rocky, but the fact is right now we're dealing with huge worker shortages and rampant inflation in building costs," Mr O'Rourke said.
"So, going ahead with this project right now would have meant pouring fuel on the fire of our housing shortage."
Mr O'Rourke said the delay could allow the region to push for a housing plan to be included as part of the project.
"We can limit the impact it has on our local market, or hopefully use it to add to our housing stock," he said.
"We do need to be thinking about our local workers in this as well.
"The plan was for the crews working on the Lawrie Street upgrade now to be involved in the Ring Road - so we need to look into the implications of this for them and what other projects they could potentially work on."
The project delays have been scrutinised by the opposition, with the LNP now calling on the Albanese Government to rethink their delayed spending on the project.
Nationals Deputy Leader Senator Bridget McKenzie blasted the construction delays, stating the Labor Party were "ripping the guts out of critical infrastructure and transport projects."
"These projects deliver social and economic benefits to local communities and our nation as a whole," Senator McKenzie said.
Federal Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said Labor's delaying of federal funding for the Rockhampton is driving uncertainty for businesses.
"Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party have effectively abandoned Central Queensland by delaying funding for the Rockhampton Ring Road," Ms Landry said.
"Our community is crying out for this critical infrastructure project.
Federal Flynn MP Colin Boyce said the key infrastructure project would improve freight efficiency, flood resilience and the capacity of the Bruce Highway, as well as improving road safety.
"Central Queensland is the economic engine room of Australia and needs to be supported with essential infrastructure to support the growth and development of the region," Mr Boyce said.
"It appears that the Federal Labor Government are happy to strip critical funding from regional projects and pump the money into metropolitan areas."
Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll said the Rockhampton Ring Road is an absolute necessity for the future growth of the region.
"As the peak regional economic development organisation in Central Queensland, Capricorn Enterprise has for the past decade successfully advocated for critical road, rail and air infrastructure as one of our region's Major Priority Projects," Ms Carroll said.
"As the remaining national highway pinch point in Queensland between Brisbane and Cairns, it absolutely cannot and should not be delayed."
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