Truck drivers would pay up to $25 per semi-trailer to use a planned Toowoomba bypass, according to the Queensland Trucking Association.
The planned Toowoomba Second Range Crossing would take traffic north off the Warrego Highway on a more gentle gradient up the Toowoomba range and bypass the city before linking up with the Gore Highway.
Toowoomba crossing a toll road
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Toowoomba crossing a toll road
A second crossing of the Toowoomba range will be built but it will be a "very expensive road" with a toll to cover its operating expenses.
QTA chief executive Peter Garske said his members understood a toll had to be charged for the new 41km network of tunnels and highways around Toowoomba.
‘‘My understanding is that something in the order of around $25 is a figure that can be achieved and still have cost savings,’’ Mr Garske said.
Heavy vehicles pay $12.50 to use Brisbane’s Clem7 tunnel and $14 for the Airport Link tunnel. If the Toowoomba bypass toll attracts a similar cost per kilometre, it would be more than $50. However both the Brisbane tunnels went into liquidation.
The more gentle gradient on the planned bypass would save fuel. It would also save 40 minutes and 16 sets of traffic lights compared to the journey through Toowoomba.
Mr Garske said a toll of about $25 per semi-trailer ‘‘would not be a deterrent to industry using the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing’’.
He said a B-double truck used a litre of fuel per kilometre, running along the Warrego Highway, but far more hauling its load up the existing winding Toowoomba Range road.
‘‘It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to work out that if you save five, six, seven litres of fuel then immediately you have saved $10 to $15,’’ he said.
‘‘And then, if you can save 45 minutes on your journey between the bottom of the Toowoomba Range and west of Toowoomba, say to Dalby.
‘‘Well an hour in a heavy vehicle is $20 to $30 in terms of the drivers time and wages.’’
On Friday, the federal and state governments agreed to underwrite $1.7 billion to build a tunnel to let truck drivers and commuter vehicles sidestep the centre of Toowoomba.
The federal government gives 80 per cent, the Queensland government 20 per cent.
The route can be seen here.
Private sector companies will now be invited to submit bids to design and construct the 41km link of tunnels and highways linking Helidon and western Toowoomba.
The toll revenue will pay to maintain the route.
The final toll price - which would be a different price for different classes of trucks, B-doubles and commuter cars - would be set by the winning private sector consortium.
The project will start construction in mid-2015, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said in Toowoomba on Friday morning.
It will take three years to build, with a completion date in 2018.
“The registration process will move to a formal expression of interest stage over the next couple of months,’’ Mr Truss said.
‘‘A successful contractor will be named later this year, with construction expected to begin by mid-2015.
“The successful proponent will be responsible for the design, construction, financing of the new bypass, as well as for the operations and maintenance, including the collection of toll money.’’
Meanwhile, the owners of Australia’s first privately owned public airport - the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba - said the new bypass would make their airport a more attractive proposition to air travellers in Ipswich and Brisbane’s west.
The airport, to open late in 2014, is owned and run by Toowoomba’s Wagner family.
General manager Phil Gregory said the airport had no say in the route of the bypass, which had been selected many years ago by the state government.
“The second range crossing will give travellers a greater choice and for many a relaxing country drive to the airport will be far more appealing than battling the city traffic enroute to Brisbane Airport,” Mr Gregory said.
- Three highways converge in Toowoomba - the Warrego, the Gore and the New England;
- There is $30 billion in mining industry expansion of the nearby Surat Basin;
- 27,000 vehicles a day use the existing, steep Toowoomba Crossing up the Dividing Range
- Around 3000 of these are heavy vehicles.
- Estimated to save between 30 and 40 minutes from a journey through Toowoomba.