SIX LANES: Traffic congestion like this will be a thing of the past with a new six-lane highway funded in last night's Budget.
SIX LANES: Traffic congestion like this will be a thing of the past with a new six-lane highway funded in last night's Budget. Alan Lander

Highway, rail funds long overdue, but welcome

BIG ticket Budget boosts for the Sunshine Coast were well overdue but great news for the local economy.

Federal MPs said the money would make a real difference to people's lives as the Treasurer last night confirmed $880 million in additional funding for the Bruce Highway and $390 for duplication of the North Coast Rail to Landsborough.

Overall highway and rail funding between Caboolture and Gympie will inject $3.1 billion into the regional economy.

Fisher MP Andrew Wallace said the congestion-busting infrastructure projects would change people's lives.

"I've lived here for 25 years and road and rail have always been issues," he said.

"Now we are seeing that turn around and the Federal Government invest in the Sunshine Coast and take notice of the region.

"We are the ninth largest area in Australia, experiencing rapid growth and with the State Government pushing more people into our patch.

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"This will help ensure we don't spend our lives in a car in a car park.

"We are very fortunate to be getting the funding we have.

"It's sending other areas green with envy.

"Our own colleagues are asking how we got money for the highway and rail."

Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien said having a six-lane highway between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast would increase competitiveness with the Gold Coast for Brisbane's drive-tourism market.

"It will ease the congestion pain workers commuting to Brisbane face every day, giving them more leisure time here on the Coast with their families," he said.

"For local businesses, improved travel times will make product distribution quicker and easier, allowing them to expand into other markets, grow their businesses and employ more staff.

"But above all, these improvements, both north and south, are about saving lives.

"Reducing road trauma and ending fatality and casualty crashes on the Bruce Highway."

Mr Wallace said 3000 women needing a specific breast cancer medication would have the cost reduced from $71,800 a year to just $39.50, while those with spinal muscular atrophy would see the cost of treatment drop from $367,000 annually to a $39.50 per script payment.

Government and independent schools can expect a $33.9 million funding boost up until 2027.