The QLD-NSW border may be closed but the states' governments are paving the way for improved connectivity after pledging funds to build a new southern entryway for the Gold Coast Airport.
The Queensland Government has today announced its commitment to a capped $6.2 million spend on the 50-50 project with its NSW counterpart, as well as $375,000 for planning and design works.
A new entrance is expected to take pressure off the Gold Coast Highway-Terminal Drive intersection in Tugun.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says now is the time to work on projects like this, adding to the M1 upgrade between Varsity Lakes to Tugun that is currently underway and a potential stage 4 of the Gold Coast light rail from Burleigh to Coolangatta currently being explored.
"Before COVID-19 arrived, the Gold Coast Airport was the sixth busiest airport in Australia, with about 6.4 million people passing through its gates each year," says Minister Bailey.
"Even with the drop off in flights, there is still more than 2000 people employed in the airport precinct, making it one of the largest employment hubs on the Gold Coast.
"The Gold Coast Airport is the closest major airport for a large catchment of people in NSW, so it makes sense to build a new southern entryway which will take pressure off the northern entrance at Tugun."
Bailey says the government will ensure the development is future-proofed to allow for integration of heavy and light rail connections.
"This is a project that would ordinarily be funded and delivered by the airport but these aren't ordinary times and we need to look for opportunities to get local projects that support jobs happening sooner," he says.
Member for Gaven, Meaghan Scanlon, says getting the right transport mix to the Gold Coast Airport is important.
"With the Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes upgrade on the M1 completed and the larger upgrade between Varsity Lakes and Tugun underway, we're making good progress on the roads for the Gold Coast," says Scanlon.
"We need to keep the momentum up though, and that's why it's so important to fund and plan these projects now.
"Not only will they help to ease congestion as communities on the southern Gold Coast grow, but they will support local jobs too."
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills has welcomed the commitment from the Queensland Government towards the southern entryway, which matched the funding from the NSW Government for the design component and provided support for the construction phase.
"This is a true cross-border project, and we are pleased to have support from both state governments for the design phase. We look forward to progressing with co-funding in the project delivery phase as well," says Mills.
"We expect most passengers will use this road to access the airport precinct - whether they are coming from Queensland or NSW. But this project will also improve traffic flow around the precinct for Southern Cross University students and guests in the newly built Rydges hotel.
"Once travel restrictions ease and our business begins to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, this project will be central to managing growth in this precinct for many years to come."
Updated at 11:24am AEST on 18 August 2020.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support