Geraldton Southern Transport Corridor opens ahead of schedule
Premier Geoff Gallop and Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan today officially opened the $88million Geraldton Southern Transport Corridor, six months ahead of schedule, at the new Willcock intersection.
Arriving at the ceremony aboard the first train to use the new 12km railway line component of the project, the Premier, Ms MacTiernan and Geraldton Mayor Vickie Petersen were welcomed by local residents, keen to celebrate the completion of the city's biggest infrastructure project.
Dr Gallop said the Southern Transport Corridor project had been a key driver in the region's transformation and had helped secure a strong future for local industry, employment and tourism.
"The Southern Transport Corridor has delivered many benefits for the Geraldton community and has created new opportunities for the Mid-West region by strengthening the link between road, rail and shipping," he said.
"The project has directly contributed about $25million to the local economy through the use of more than 100 local suppliers and subcontractors.
"More than 70 per cent of workers were drawn from the local community and this project has helped to address the skills shortage in the construction industry through the development of 40 apprentices and trainees.
"This means more jobs and opportunities and a stronger regional economy."
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said opening the project six months earlier than first planned was a tremendous result and a credit to those contractors and the Government project managing team from Main Roads and at PTA.
"The Geraldton community has embraced this project with extraordinary enthusiasm and followed its progress since March 2004, when we turned the first sod on the project," Ms MacTiernan said.
"We have overcome many challenges to successfully deliver the integration of new road, rail and coastal works, all on the doorstep of Geraldton's city centre.
"By working closely with local government, key stakeholders and the community, we have been able to minimise disruption and accelerate completion of this massive and important project.
"The benefits of this work will be further realised when the existing rail along the foreshore is pulled up in the coming weeks, removing the blight on the city and allowing the CBD to link again with its greatest asset - the ocean.
"Of course, the transport benefits of the Southern Transport Corridor will be further enhanced by the completion of Stage Two, which will extend the highway to Geraldton Airport and will ultimately provide a direct east-west link to the Geraldton Port."
Main Roads is currently developing the concept design and is undertaking other pre-construction activities to facilitate the award of the contract for Stage Two in 2007-08.
Geraldton MLA Shane Hill said it was very rewarding to see the suite of projects committed by Government individually become a reality and collectively drive the enormous change in Geraldton over recent years.
"These projects have not only provided vital infrastructure to support the further development of the region, but have also reignited industry confidence and enhanced community lifestyle," Mr Hill said.
"Congratulations to Main Roads, the Public Transport Authority and Thiess for their accomplishment on the corridor - it is fine example of what we can achieve when we work collaboratively and strive for excellence."
The Southern Transport Corridor was delivered by Thiess Pty Ltd for Main Roads and the Public Transport Authority.
The design and construct contract included the construction of about 13km of new railway from Narngulu industrial area to the Geraldton Port, 5.3km of new road, four road bridges and two rail tunnels.