The $50m idea to unblock the Bruce Hwy
STOCKLAND says it would fast-track delivery of the Bells Creek Arterial Rd if it was reimbursed for its financial losses in bringing forward an extra $50 million to complete the Coast's new major road.
The Caloundra South developer is currently building the first 2.8km stretch of the road at a cost of $35 million as part of the Infrastructure Agreement struck between Stockland, the State Government and the Sunshine Coast Council.
Under the current arrangement the developer will construct the remainder of the road, a 7.3km stretch, at a cost of about $97 million, linking Bells Creek in the south to Caloundra Rd in the north.
The road would provide a valuable link to the Bruce Hwy, easing pressure on the national highway as well as under-pressure Caloundra Rd, however the earliest that link can be made is 2029 under the current arrangement.
Stockland's regional manager Ben Simpson said the company was open to fast-tracking construction of the road, which could be delivered up to eight years earlier than expected, if the $50 million Stockland would lose in holding costs by bringing funds forward could be reimbursed.
"If Stockland were to forward fund this cost and fast track the construction of the entire, remaining length of the Bells Creek Arterial Road, it would cost Stockland an additional $50 million, approximately, in holding costs, which is outside the existing Infrastructure Agreement, and would require Stockland to be reimbursed," Mr Simpson said.
"We acknowledge the inherent benefits that bringing forward the completion of the Bells Creek Arterial Road would deliver to commuters looking to access the new Sunshine Coast Health Precinct and broader Caloundra area, to and from the Bruce Highway, and its ability to alleviate congestion on Caloundra Rd.
"We would welcome discussions with the State Government on how to bring forward the remaining 7.3km extension of the Bells Creek Arterial Road, ahead of our current schedule for its development."
Caloundra State MP Mark McArdle said on the surface he felt Stockland's proposal was something that should be "looked at closely".
Mr McArdle said state-federal partnerships could also be explored to cover the reimbursement and he believed the economic benefits the completion of the Bells Creek Arterial Rd would bring meant it was something that should be closely analysed.
"We shouldn't simply rebut this automatically," he said.
Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace said the proposal was "certainly an option" that Stockland had put to him during the election campaign and he had been in discussions with Federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester about the Bells Creek Arterial Road.
He said he was aware of the proposal but also made the point the Federal Government was "not in the business" of doing work for developers that had already been committed to and they had to be careful of setting a precedent.
He also made the point he didn't think it was acceptable to sit around for another eight-to-10 years to find a solution, saying that would turn Caloundra Rd into even more of a "basket case" than it already was.
"At the end of the day that Bells Creek Arterial Road has to be done, in my view, sooner rather than later," Mr Wallace said.
The Daily is also seeking comments from Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.