Toowoomba Bypass winner Nexus will use local crews
IT'S bigger than expected and will be delivered a year ahead of schedule.
International infrastructure consortium Nexus has been named the preferred builder of the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.
With $67 million in extra features, the development - 30 years in the making - will generate 1800 full-time jobs in the region with construction starting by year's end.
The open-cut 41 km four-lane highway is expected to be completed within three years.
Spanish consortia Nexus, spearheaded by international investment firm Plenary Group, has called on local businesses to make submissions to the group for construction inclusion.
Nexus comprises the joint-venture Accicona Infrastructure and Ferovial agroman, operations and maintenance company Transfield Services, and investment corporations Acciona Concessions and Cintra.
The Plenary Group was behind the Gold Coast's $1b light rail system.
No Nexus members are based locally in Toowoomba, but director Paul Digby said submissions were being received by local suppliers.
"We ask local suppliers and contractors to be patient just a short while longer as we work with the State (Government) to achieve all required contractual documentation," Mr Digby said.
The Federal Government funded $1.285b of the project, with the State Government contributing $321m.
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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the Range bypass was critical to bolstering the Darling Downs economy.
"This marks a key step in the project's procurement before we move to award the contract to Nexus to build the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing," Mr Truss said.
"The selection of Nexus is a result of the Australian and Queensland governments' drive to attract world class expertise and innovation to deliver infrastructure with significant benefits to the regional, state and national economies."
Federal Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane welcomed the announcement but cautioned it wouldn't be legally binding for another month.
He said Projects Queensland was continuing negotiations with Nexus.
"Projects Queensland will complete that negotiation and there is a back-up if that preferred tenderer doesn't agree to go ahead with the contract," Mr Macfarlane said.
"We'd like that to be concluded in the next three to four weeks when there will be a formal signing between the Federal Government, State Government and the proponent."
Mr Macfarlane said construction would begin this year.
The winning design includes two-lanes east and west from the Warrego Hwy East Interchange at Helidon to the Warrego Hwy West.
Part of the $67m in extra features takes in the grade separated interchanges and connection to Mort St, a 30 metre cutting at the crest of the Toowoomba Range and an 800m viaduct built over the existing Queensland Rail line.
It will be a toll road with tolling arrangements to be finalised closer to its official opening in 2018.
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State Minister for Main Roads Mark Bailey said despite the $67m in extra features, the government remained confident the project would be delivered on time and on budget.
"There's about $67m in extra features that we have been able to negotiate for the same level of money," Mr Bailey said.
"The other thing we have been able to do is there won't be a tunnel but rather a cutting, which is cheaper.
"The timeframe remains the same (and) construction starts late this year and is expected to be completed in 2018.
"We've got extra value with the same timeframe."
Member for Toowoomba North Trevor Watts said yesterday's announcement meant the Range crossing would no longer be a political football.
"The greatest part now is that now this has been announced, no government can take this back," he said.
"The project is definitely happening."
Mr Watts said he would consult with the community to ensure minimal disruptions for Highfields residents during construction.
"I will be working hard on two counts - one, to make sure the 1800 jobs, as much as possible, end up with locals being employed," he said.
"Secondly, to make sure people who live north of Toowoomba and Highfields (and) Blue Mountains are not disrupted.
"We have been told it is going to be a cutting.
"I think it is important that all the traffic down the New England Hwy can get to town with minimal disruptions possible.
"Any design (of the Range crossing) will be most welcome."
Who is Nexus?
- Plenary Group, financial advisor and investor;
- Accicona Infrastructure and Ferovial agroman, construction joint venture;
- Transfield Services, operations and maintenance provider
- Acciona Concessions, investor
- Cintra, investor
Key design features
- Four lanes (two lanes each way) from Warrego Hwy East Interchange at Helidon to Warrego Hwy West;
- Grade separated interchanges at Warrego Hwy West, Toowoomba-Cecil Plains Rd and Gore Hwy;
- A grade separated connection to Mort St
- 30m cutting at the top of the Range as an alternative to the tunnel solution as detailed in the reference design.
- An 800m viaduct built over the existing Queensland Rail line; and
- Continuity of the New England Hwy through a new bridge over the cutting.