Govt indicates toll roads likely
By ED SOUTHORN
THE Federal Government has given a strong indication that the final upgrade of the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane is likely to include tolls.
Acting Prime Minister Mark Vaile said truckies could pay up to $70 in tolls on the highway, "regular motorists" could also have to pay "variable" tolls on some sections and private operators in "public-private" partnerships could become involved in completing the Sydney-Brisbane link.
Mr Vaile said it was $400 cheaper for a B-Double semi-trailer to drive from Sydney to Brisbane on the Pacific Highway because of upgrades over the past 10 years, than on the New England Highway.
"So anything we do is going to enhance their efficiency," he said.
"Therefore the transport industry would be prepared to pay a toll, not just a $5 or $7 or $10 toll. For Sydney to Brisbane, who knows, (they could pay) a $50 to $70 toll, because these efficiencies are so significant now in running that sector."
The Federal and NSW governments have promised to finish a dual carriageway from Sydney to Port Macquarie and from Brisbane to Byron Bay in three years, but a definite timetable for upgrading the Sexton Hill section of the highway at Banora Point appears to be unresolved.
Mr Vaile said the NSW Government should investigate private-public partnerships for the link between Port Macquarie and Byron Bay.