Flood-proof funding unlikely for bridge in state budget

MEMBER for Burnett Stephen Bennett has been left "bitterly disappointed" after receiving a response from the Labor Minister for Main Roads about government funding for works to flood-proof Essendean Bridge and Fingerboard Rd.

Mr Bennett penned a letter to Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark Bailey last week who replied with the following response.

"I note that in response to flood impacts on Fingerboard Road, Round Hill Road and the remainder of Bundaberg-Miriam Vale Road, three electronic road condition information signs have been installed by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR)," the minister said.

"I am advised that TMR officers control and update these signs 24 hours per day to provide realtime information, which in conjunction with road condition information on the 13 19 40 traffic and traveller information website/phone, allows motorists to plan their journey when travelling in the region."

"I also note that the State Budget 2015-2016 will be handed down by the Treasurer on 14 July 2015."

Mr Bennett said funding was desperately needed to improve the areas to provide better road access during flood events.

"I have lobbied for many years to gain the funding to replace this low timber bridge. It's not the condition of the bridge - it's the impact on towns like Seventeen Seventy, Agnes Water and Baffle Creek that are cut off on a regular basis by flooding," he said.

"Every time there's a severe weather event, these communities are isolated by heavy rain, causing disruption to schooling, tourism, local businesses and much more."

"In the last two flood events, businesses lost an estimated $2 million each time. Tourism operators couldn't calculate the further cost of tourists who stayed away, fearing being flooded in."

Mr Bennett said he believed the State Budget would have little effect on future funding availability.

"Given the minister's terse response, my great fear is that these communities will continued to be ignored by this Labor government, with little likelihood of funding forthcoming," he said.



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