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The mooted Toowoomba North South Transport Corridor, first announced in July, has been scrapped by the Queensland Government following significant community backlash.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey announced on Monday that nearly all of the proposed corridor has been scrapped based on extensive public opposition to the proposed route.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) will now work with Toowoomba Regional Council to identify alternate transport solutions that maximise the use of existing road infrastructure, addressing future transport needs.

Under the proposed corridor, hundreds of properties would have been directly affected, including dozens at Westbrook, Wyreema and Vale View.

The government had originally only scheduled community consultation to last for a month, however after a strong negative response from the community this was extended multiple times and it eventually ended in October.

The only section that will proceed to corridor protection is the small Charlton Bypass in the industrial area which proved to be uncontroversial after some refinements to reflect land use changes and community feedback in the area.

More than 4000 responses and submissions were received through the three-month community consultation phase and the majority were against the proposal.

Many questioned the reasoning behind why the proposed route was selected and why alternatives had not been chosen.

As part of the planning and consultation process, TMR has engaged with key stakeholders, Toowoomba Regional Council, elected representatives, industry, property owners along the proposed corridor, residents living just outside the corridor, first nation representatives and the greater Toowoomba community.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the government is “extremely grateful” to everyone that provided feedback, detailed submissions or just shared their story.

“On critical, large projects such as the North South Transport Corridor, it’s important that the community has a say – that’s why we do community consultation – so that we can change and pivot to reflect the needs of the community,” Minister Bailey said.

“Now that consultation has closed, TMR will work with Toowoomba Regional Council to identify alternate transport solutions that maximise the use of existing road infrastructure.

“Toowoomba is growing and that is a great thing for the community because it means jobs and prosperity.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to prepare submissions, meet with the project team and provide general feedback about the proposed transport corridor.”

Forecasts show Toowoomba is expected to grow by 76,000 to 200,000 people by 2046 with significant new community development projects, including new housing, approved for development.

Member for Condamine, Pat Weir, welcomed the move.

“I welcome the announcement from Minister Mark Bailey regarding the proposed Toowoomba North South Transport Corridor being scrapped,” Mr Weir said.

“This is a direct result of community objections and the feedback received by the Transport and Main Roads Department (TMR).

“As the local member for Condamine, I hosted community meetings at Westbrook and Gowrie Junction where I ensured representation from TMR personnel, to allow them to hear first-hand the concerns of the community.

“I note this announcement states TMR will work with Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) to identify an alternate route.

“I would hope there will be a much more comprehensive consultation process this time to ensure the debacle we have just had is not repeated,” Mr Weir said.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Geoff McDonald said the sheer volume of community interest and concern regarding the alignment of the Toowoomba North-South Transport Corridor shows that a re-think of the corridor was needed and that’s the process the State says it will now undertake.

“Council agrees there is a growing need for an additional north-south road for the Toowoomba Region and remains committed to advocating for minimal disruption to residents, protection of environment and areas of cultural significance and mitigating impacts on the local road network while achieving the best possible outcome for the region,” he said.

“With the amount of development and growth happening in and around Toowoomba, including the new hospital, there is a critical need for an alternative transport solution north-south through greater Toowoomba and it is critical the State Government invests in this much-needed planning now.”

On Our Selection News 7 December 2023

This article appeared in On Our Selection News, 7 December 2023.

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