Bypass plan in the mail

By KEN SAPWELL

PLANS for the long-awaited Tugun bypass will be unveiled next week when a fact sheet is sent out to more than 30,000 residents living near the proposed route.

It will provide a timetable for the $320 million project and show where the proposed route will go once environmental concerns are addressed through an environmental impact statement (EIS).

The letter-box drop around the northern Tweed and southern Gold Coast is aimed at keeping residents up-to-date and involving them in the project, according to a joint announcement by State and Federal Ministers.

Queensland Roads Minister Paul Lucas said it would also inform them about what will occur when the next major step in building the bypass - the EIS - is released in December.

He said Queensland Main Roads had been working closely with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, the Federal Transport Department and the Gold Coast Airport on planning and environmental approvals.

"Instead of putting a number of environmental studies out for public consulation, these documents have been combined into one EIS, making the approval process easier to understand," Mr Lucas said.

"The Tugun bypass will be a vital new economic and social link for the region - that is why the local community has shown such a huge interest.

"The good news is that this project is going according to plan.

"We need to get the balance right between economic, social and environmental needs so that people with concerns will be listened to."

The bypass will be funded with $240 million from the Queensland government and $120 million from the federal government.

It will provide a separate high-speed link between the southern Gold Coast and northern NSW for interstate and heavy vehicle traffic.

The long-stalled project was given the green light when NSW dropped its opposition and agreed to the proposed C4 route west of Coolangatta Airport last May.

Queensland has purchased 76 hectares of significant habitat adjacent to the Cobaki Wetlands to offset the loss of land due to the bypass.

Mr Lucas said once all the approval processes were completed, tenders for construction should be awarded by mid-2006. Construction was expected to take two years.

NSW Roads Minister Carl Scully said as part of the approvals process, residents would be given the oppor-tunity to comment on the EIS.



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