Gap in Pacific Highway funding

THE gap between the money allocated to the Pacific Highway upgrade and what is needed could be up to $1 billion more than previously thought, a senior public servant has confirmed.

In a Senate Estimates hearing, Infrastructure and Transport Department secretary Mike Mrdak said it would cost between $6 billion and $7 billion to finish the highway to dual-carriageway standard.

The figure assumes the NSW Government will match the conditional $750 million allocated in the Federal Budget.

Mr Mrdak told the committee the Federal Government had committed $4.1 billion to the highway in the current funding period, which ends in 2014, while the former NSW Government had invested $500 million.

There was still another 94.4km of highway, including the Ewingsdale to Tintenbar upgrade, to be completed within the three years.

That left 235.6km, costing between $6 billion and $7 billion, to be completed in the two years remaining before the 2016 deadline.

The NRMA estimated in 2009 it would take more than $6 billion to complete the upgrade after 2014.

That figure has never been contested, but this is the first time a government official has publicly confirmed the outstanding cost of the project.

Nationals Leader Warren Truss pointed to the confirmation, saying “the Pacific Highway project is now officially on the skids”.

Topics:  lismore pacific highway upgrade

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