Enough with the politics, private money backs bypass
PRIVATE investors are combining forces and bank balances to finally get the Toowoomba bypass built.
The Federal Government's reluctance to match the Opposition's $700 million pledge to building the bypass is all that stands in the way from deep-pocketed financiers committing to cover the shortfall.
Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise chairman John Wagner said the remainder of the $1.6 billion total price tag would gradually be recouped through tolls on heavy vehicles.
If there is a change of government, we could see serious detailed planning happen next year.
"There are a number of consortiums being put together at the moment that will be lining up to bid for the project as soon as there's a change of government or the Labor party commits to matching Tony Abbott's offer," Mr Wagner said.
"The decision to build the range bypass will be a political one.
"If there is a change of government, we could see serious detailed planning happen next year.
"There would be a three to three-and-a-half-year construction period."
A Labor guarantee to match the Opposition's $700 million contribution could be just around the corner.
Rumours are circulating about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plan to visit Toowoomba in the very near future, providing a perfect opportunity for the announcement.
Do we have a better chance of getting a Bypass if we build it ourselves?
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Transport Workers Union organiser Brendan Bogle said there would be one question on everybody's lips.
"What is the commitment to the bypass?" he said.
"That's what we all want to know."
I personally think about $35 to $40 is more plausible from an industry point of view
Regional Development Australian CEO Brian Hewitt recently suggested a $55 toll on heavy transport would be required to regain costs, contrary to Mr Wagner's opinion.
"All this talk of a $55 toll, in my view, is simply over the top," Mr Wagner said.
"I personally think about $35 to $40 is more plausible from an industry point of view."
Mr Wagner did not confirm or rule out his family business Wagners Group's potential involvement in the private funding scheme, and did not elaborate on any plans.
He also kept the identity of the interested investors under wraps.
"There have been a number of approaches (to TSBE) made by private investors to help fund this project," he said.
"That information is very much commercial-in-confidence."